It’s been announced today that the government will bring forward a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 5 years to 2035 and will take it a step further to include hybrid cars.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made the announcement ahead of him opening of the UN climate conference, COP26. He was previously criticised for setting a target of 2040 which would ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. He was accused of not being ambitious enough and has since revised the plans which will mean that in 15 years’ time people will only be able to buy electric or hydrogen cars and vans.
While many will welcome his ambition and the greater urgency these plans place on the UK becoming carbon neutral, others claim these plans are unrealistic and worry about the impact on consumers.
Edmund King, President of the AA, said that while drivers “support measures to clean up air quality and reduce CO2 emissions”, he considered the new targets “incredibly challenging.” King also questioned whether we will have a sufficient supply of zero emissions vehicles in less than fifteen years.
This is an interesting point, not only are there limited options for consumers when it comes to purchasing fully electric vehicles, those in an affordable price bracket are even fewer. There are also no hydrogen cars on sale in the general market at this moment in time and the UK is lacking a fully comprehensive charging infrastructure.
Furthermore, the attitude from consumers seems to be that Hybrids and Plug in Hybrids (PHEVs) are a stepping stone between going fully electric. They allow drivers to reduce their carbon output while not being inconvenienced by the lack of charging points and mainstream access to electric vehicle support.
The inclusion of hybrid and PHEVs in the ban has shocked the wider automotive industry, as manufacturers have invested so heavily in innovating and bringing a huge range of hybrids and PHEV models to the market. There are fears that this announcement will have a dramatic impact on the market value of these vehicles today.
It seems there is a long way to go in terms of public perception, accessibility and infrastructure if the government is to meet these ambitious targets. Consultation with the wider automotive sector will also be crucial for success as so many uncertainties lie ahead.
One thing’s for sure, is if we are going to tackle the climate crisis we’re all going to have to accept that the future of transport will be electric. The question is when.
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