Electrified vehicles only accounted for 5.2% of all new car sales in the first four months of this year, reflecting the slow — albeit growing — uptake of zero-emissions models.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Soceity of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which speaks on behalf of car makers, said the industry supported the Goverment's goal for zero-emissions transport. He highlighted the fact that the industry is investing billions in new technology, with nearly 50 plug-in models already on the market; however, he criticised the leaked announcement of the ban and its wording.
Hawes said: "Vehicle manufacturers will increasingly offer electrified versions of their vehicles, giving consumers ever more choice, but industry cannot dictate the pace of change, nor levels of consumer demand. Unrealistic targets and misleading messaging on bans will only undermine our efforts to realise this future, confusing consumers and wreaking havoc on the new car market and the thousands of jobs it supports."
He added that the SMMT could not support goals that "do not appreciate how industry, the consumer or the market operate and which are based neither on fact nor substance".
Moreover, Hawes said that 98% of all new cars are diesel or petrol that meet the latest and toughest emissions standards, helping to reduce climate change and improve air quality: “If the Government wants the UK to be a global leader in zero-emission transport, it must provide a world-class package of incentives and support to make this a credible policy. This includes ensuring we have the right infrastructure in place with sufficient charging points and energy supply.
"Consumers need clear information about the right vehicles for their driving needs and it is again disappointing for both industry and consumers that vitally important information about government policy is being communicated by leaks.”
A Vauxhall spokesman said: “We have a clear plan to introduce electrified derivatives of all models across our entire product range by 2025 in line with our PACE! plan. We are cautious of misleading communications on ‘bans’ which can only undermine our major investments to achieve the goal of zero emission transport.
He continued: "Any CO2 ambition levels should be fully supported by equally ambitious infrastructure targets and long term consumer incentives to help drive demand. Consumers need clear and concise information to provide them with the confidence they need to purchase the right car or van for their needs.
"We will continue to work closely with Government and our industry body the SMMT to ensure that the right market conditions exist to support consumer choice and drive change towards a lower emission future”
The Department for Transport made contact with Autocar to deny the claims. It said: “We do not comment on leaked draft documents. The Road to Zero strategy is yet to be finalised and has not been agreed by ministers.
“It is categorically untrue that Government is planning to ban the sale of hybrid [and plug-in hybrid] cars in the UK by 2040.”