Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders CEO Mike Hawes cautioned that the automotive sector could be 'undermined' if the industry was not given enough time to adapt to the new policy.
"Much depends on the cost of these new technologies and how willing consumers are to adopt battery, plug in hybrid and hydrogen cars," said Hawes.
"Currently demand for alternatively-fuelled vehicles is growing but still at a very low level as consumers have concern over affordability, range and charging points.
France pledges to ban petrol and diesel cars by 2040
"Outright bans risk undermining the current market for new cars and our sector which supports over 800,000 jobs across the UK so the industry instead wants a positive approach which gives consumers incentives to purchase these cars."
Additionally, a £255 million fund is expected to be set up to aid councils to clean up the most polluted inner-city areas.
Potential methods of tackling local issues include introducing charging for high-polluting vehicles through to the removal of speed humps and traffic calming measures has also been highlighted as a possible improvement. Money will also be made available to retro-fit pollution-reducing technology to public transport
Air pollution is linked to around 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK. A government spokesman said: "Poor air quality is the biggest environmental risk to public health in the UK and this government is determined to take strong action in the shortest time possible.”
The industry reacts
Several car makers have welcomed today's news, with Hyundai stating that the combustion engine ban aligns with its current plans. A spokesperson told Autocar "Hyundai Motor has already launched the new Ioniq – the world’s first car to offer Hybrid, Plug-In Hybrid and full Electric powertrains all in one bodystyle –which is currently on sale in the UK. To date in 2017, it has sold circa 15,000 Ioniq vehicles in Europe and 2500 in the UK.
"It is also a pioneer in zero emission fuel cell technology and it was the first manufacturer to make a fuel cell vehicle commercially available to the UK market back in October 2014. To date, we have sold 15 cars here in the UK and 500 across Europe. That is more than all other brands offering Fuel Cell combined. An all-new fuel cell vehicle will be introduced in 2018."
Vincent Tourette, Renault UK boss said: “We’ve been pioneers in electric vehicles and this news has validated that we got it right before anyone else. We will be ready [for any legislation changes] but we will see if customers choose to go to EVs and if they do, we will be able to deliver.”
When asked about what the UK needs to achieve these targets, Tourette said: “There is work to be done on infrastructure, that remains one of the main weaknesses, especially in central London. There also needs to be ongoing tax incentives.”
Nissan UK put out the following statement: “As the pioneer of electric vehicles, and having sold more than any other company in the world, we welcome plans that encourage people to switch to low or zero emission vehicles. In the future, cars will become an intrinsic part of the way we consume, share and generate energy.”