Currently reading: Is an ICE ban really the will of the people?
Autocar readers submit their takes on the government’s plan for an EV-only future

Last month, Autocar published its response to the UK government’s call for public views on its proposed 2035 ban on the sale of new cars powered only by an internal combustion engine (ICE). While this is undoubtedly a transition that the country must make posthaste, the plan for achieving it struck us as rather poorly thought through.

We also encouraged you to submit your own views, so here we summarise some readers’ manifestos for Britain’s entry into the age of electrification.

George Koopman, Devon

● Battery production is far from carbon-neutral. This must be honestly quantified, and we must make certain that global demand can be met by 2035.

● Battery disposal on the scale necessitated by an all-electric fleet will produce vast recycling problems. To suggest old batteries can all be used for static storage is disingenuous. We need realistic proposals.

● Until there are adequate charging facilities for all EVs, plug-in hybrids must not only be allowed to continue but also not be penalised.

● The proposed ban should be phased: firstly in large urban areas and then in less densely populated areas.

● Hydrogen fuel cell EVs are likely to be a better long-term solution than battery EVs. Thus incentives must encourage production of hydrogen using renewable energy.

● Total honesty is required as to how the near-£40 billion currently raised annually through fuel duty, VAT and VED will be replaced.

Richard Smith, Cheshire

● There doesn’t need to be an ICE ban. When the economics work and there’s sufficient infrastructure, people will buy EVs. The government should concentrate on setting standards and ensuring the infrastructure is in place.

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● Current taxes are already big enough to deter people from buying a new car, and the tax advantages for EVs are already big enough.

● Hybrids are part of the transition and possibly the only solution for long-distance motoring, so their development should be encouraged rather than discouraged.

● Older cars should be allowed to continue on our roads. Less well-off people shouldn’t be priced out of personal mobility.

● Cars have given massive benefits to individuals and industry in this country. The government must recognise that these are still relevant.

Andrew Morley, Somerset

● Establish a legally binding strategy by requiring all local authorities and transport providers to commit to their underlying strategic plans.

● Provide a legal framework to permit EVs to access all roads with improved parking, thus making our towns and cities vibrant, quiet and clean places.

● Provide sensibly priced EV charging at lamp-posts. This could overcome the loss of VED as EVs become more popular, effectively taxing usage to pay for infrastructure.

● Scrappage incentives for pre-Euro 4 petrol cars and pre-Euro 6 diesels would be helpful.

● Permit out-of-town use of all current vehicles until they reach their end of life, thus avoiding waste of useful vehicles and providing poorer drivers with personal transport at a reasonable cost.

● Provide better out-of-town EV charging and integrate cars and vans into the public transport network so that parking, runways, road and rail layouts and pricing all incentivise park-and-ride, cycling and walking.

● Support the transport industry by ensuring that firms feel valued and have the legally bound strategy against which they can focus investment and design.

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Richard Lofthouse, London

● The phase-out date of 2035 is improbable. We need primary legislation and a year-by-year roadmap between 2020 and 2035 to get there. Road pricing should replace fuel duty.

● I agree with the recent decision to pull the subsidy on plug-in hybrids, because you can’t govern whether these are charged. I would incentivise full hybrids; if everyone drove one of these by 2025, that would be a much bigger gain than having a sprinkling of drivers in EVs but the majority still in ICE-only cars by 2035.

● Most of the ICE vehicles made and sold now will still be trundling around in 2035. The current ‘oversupply of the wrong stuff’ imbalance in model ranges must be addressed now. The regulatory environment is far too liberal.

● Van drivers need generous subsidies and better vehicle choices, otherwise it’s just not going to happen.

● Car owners need road pricing so that we can move beyond the horrendous congestion, freeing up the economy and roads and reducing the need for road-building.

Chris Williams, Wiltshire

● Don’t implement a ban until 2038 at the earliest; that’s three full model generations ahead.

● Implement any ban broadly in line with other major European countries.

● Exempt all petrol-engined hybrids, in particular plug-ins.

● Exempt all low-volume car makers, motorsport firms and vehicles made or imported for agricultural use.

● Allow historic cars to remain on the road, given the classic car industry is a significant contributor to the UK economy.

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● Avoid curbs on Euro 4 petrol cars and Euro 6 diesels to give lower-income people hope of achieving affordable mobility.

● Recognise the oil industry’s potentially game-changing plan to introduce low-carbon fuels and thus include in any law a provision for the start date of any ban to be delayed.

● Also provide for the date to be delayed if an objective analysis of charging capacity in the National Grid shows it to be insufficient for the requirements of EVs, or if an objective analysis shows that batteries are being produced/ sourced in an energy-inefficient way, or that they can’t be recycled efficiently.

● Dramatically increase support for the hydrogen industry to encourage the provision of clean propulsion for lorries, buses and trucks.

Paul Heritage-Redpath, Shropshire

● Conduct and publish a cost-benefit analysis of the environmental impact of EV battery manufacturing across all stages.

● Consider the large sector of the population who are not able to park by a convenient charging point.

● Plan for the environmentally sound disposal of every vehicle in the UK.

● Plan for the environmentally safe conversion of filling stations to charging stations.

● Plan to generate sufficient clean electricity to meet EV charging demand spikes.

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● Ensure fair charging pricing and congestion charging so that urban areas don’t become accessible only to the wealthy.

Graham King, Yorkshire

● Arbitrarily decreeing that a certain technology must be used from an arbitrary date is short-sighted.

● Relying on battery power alone is unviable for much of the passenger and freight transport industries. Hydrogen power is viable but many years away from being cost-effective. It’s therefore vital that ICE remains an option, either in hybrid form or using synthetic fuels, and that operators of older diesels aren’t penalised.

● I’m concerned that any ICE ban will come in conjunction with penalties for users of pre-Euro 6 cars, which would grossly penalise people on low incomes.

● The government should work in close co-operation with manufacturers, engineers, suppliers, experts and vehicle users of all kinds before announcing any ban.

● The UK is a relatively small market for most car makers. If an ICE ban occurs here sooner than in other countries, many are therefore likely to simply withdraw, limiting consumer choice and increasing prices.


Autocar's manifesto: Why Government must rethink the 2035 combustion ban 

SMMT boss: Government would “struggle to get support” for combustion ban earlier than 2035 

Petrol and diesel car sales ban could come in 2032 

2035 combustion engine ban: last chance to have your say

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Silvia Surfer 19 January 2021

Anyone in the UK can vote for synthetic fuels and other cleaner, more environmentally friendly fuels search for efuels on the government petitions website.

runnerbean 14 August 2020

Missing the point?

It''s not the capital cost of EVs (or indeed any car) that should be considered, but the ownership (or whole life) cost.  EVs currently win hands down in each category because not only does the fuel cost less, the depreciation, maintenance and road tax are lower as well.  Perhaps once people cotton on to this their take-up will accelerate.  

tkemp22 14 August 2020

So much venom!

Wow, whenever these sorts of posts come up and someone has the temerity to suggest that an electric or BEV car doesn't suit their needs they get so much hate and attack its almost comical! In my particular case, if therre was an electric car, that wasn't as SUV, didn't have a stupid touch screen as it's only HMI, could easily do a return trip to my inlaws without the need to refuel, could carry all the luggage internally without a roof box and cost less than £25k - I would probably get one. As it is, such a unicorn doesn't exist and until it does, an electric car won't work, FOR ME.

For others there are other perfectly reasonable objections - refuelling is one. At the moment you can get 600 miles worth of range in less than 5 minutes in your average diesel family car. This can last anything up to a month, depending on usage, where you don't have to think about it again. You can then park your car anywhere you like without having to worry about if there is a fuelling point where you've parked. Did a return trip to County Durham at the beginning of July with the family, didn't think about fuel once on the entire trip. Also, petrol pumps are reliable and the payment mechanism is reliable, quick and secure. No apps, no rfid cards, just your bank card.

Until EVs are the same price (or cheaper) than the equivalent ICE or hybrid, offer the same level of convenience and fit the needs of the majority of people - they will not take over without ICE's being de-incentiveised. And that's the real issue. People will buy the best product that suits their needs and budget - that's how market forces work. At the moment, for the vast majority of people, that is still an ICE powered car. Until that changes, electric cars just won't happen.