PM considers delaying new ICE vehicle ban: industry response


The government is planning to delay ending the sale of new diesel cars and vans by five years, to 2035, reports have suggested.

This is just one of several green policies that the Prime Minister is considering watering down or delaying, with official plans to be set out in the next few days.

In response to the leaked report from the BBC, Rishi Sunak has published a statement, which says: "For too many years politicians in governments of all stripes have not been honest about costs and trade offs. Instead they have taken the easy way out, saying we can have it all.

"This realism doesn’t mean losing our ambition or abandoning our commitments. Far from it. I am proud that Britain is leading the world on climate change.

"We are committed to Net Zero by 2050 and the agreements we have made internationally - but doing so in a better, more proportionate way."

Industry response

In response, Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: "The automotive industry has and continues to invest billions in new electric vehicles as the decarbonisation of road transport is essential if net zero is to be delivered.

"Government has played a key part in bringing some of that investment to the UK, and Britain can – and should – be a leader in zero emission mobility both as a manufacturer and market.

"To make this a reality, however, consumers must want to make the switch, which requires from Government a clear, consistent message, attractive incentives and charging infrastructure that gives confidence rather than anxiety. Confusion and uncertainty will only hold them back."

Richard Hebditch, UK Director of Transport & Environment UK said: “With many cars on the road increasingly lasting close to 20 years, shifting the phase out date means we’re likely to see millions more fossil fuelled cars well past the 2050 net zero target date. This will crash the UK’s carbon budgets.

“The sudden abandonment of long-held policy will send shockwaves across industries that we need to get greenhouse gas emissions to zero - the automotive industry being just one.

“Car and van manufacturers, battery suppliers and gigafactories, as well as charging station providers have all been planning for the 2030 phase-out. Now, their plans will be up in the air yet again, creating chaos and uncertainty. The future of the country and the climate deserves better.”

Ford, who have invested in the UK based on the government’s 2030 net zero commitments, has called for “ambition, commitment and consistency".

Lisa Brankin, Ford UK chair, said: “A relaxation of 2030 would undermine all three. We need the policy focus trained on bolstering the EV (electric vehicle) market in the short term and supporting consumers while headwinds are strong: infrastructure remains immature, tariffs loom and cost-of-living is high.”

Ben Nelmes, CEO of New AutoMotive, said: “Delaying the 2030 deadline would pull the rug from under motorists and industry, and would deal a hammer blow to the UK's leadership on climate change. It would be incredibly disruptive for an industry which has invested billions based on what they were told was settled policy, undermining jobs and investment.
“The 2030 deadline is one of the few areas of net zero that will actually save people money. Shifting to electric cars and vans will drive down costs for UK drivers. This move will deny people access to cheaper motoring, and if we delay the ban it will actually raise costs for motorists.
“This is a huge shock to the industry, which has invested billions in electrification - and on top of that, it’s also bad news for the planet. Pushing back 2030 risks putting net zero beyond reach.
“This is a cynical short term attempt to politicise an area of sensible, settled policy. The car and energy industries have been working tirelessly towards this. I hope that Rishi Sunak sees sense and does not backtrack to the extent that it’s being trailed on Friday.”
Asif Ghafoor, CEO and co-founder of Northern EV charging network Be.EV, said: “The rate at which consumers have adopted EVs has been faster than predicted. The government must create policies that build on the public’s enthusiasm rather than sabotage it.
“Most car manufacturers have already pivoted away from ICE cars, most new models including more affordable EV models will be in the market by 2025 and a whole new manufacturing industry has sprung up in quiet, clean and modern EVs.
“We need legislation to unlock the power trapped in the system - but it’s all taking too long. Every leg of the planning, permissions, sourcing power and building process slows an installation down - charging networks are not able to move anywhere near quick enough to keep up with the amount of drivers transitioning to EVs.
“In decarbonising transport, we are facing a thoroughly novel challenge and a major industrial shift. If the government is truly committed to the EV transition, they have to take the strategic lead.”

Jon Lawes, Managing Director at Novuna Vehicle Solutions, one of the UK’s largest leasing companies, said: “Any rollback in the long standing 2030 deadline sends out the wrong message to manufacturers and drivers, and threatens future investment in the UK’s battery supply and charging infrastructure, both critical to realising zero emissions mobility.
“We’ve come a long way and can’t lose sight of the ultimate goal to reduce carbon emissions.”

Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, Chief Executive of the REA (Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology) said: “Any rolling back on existing net zero commitments is not the smart economic choice for the country. It is short term policy making that guarantees more expensive bills for us all in the future.
“If confirmed, delays to both the ban on the sales of new petrol and diesel cars and the phasing out of gas boilers will extend the countries reliance on expensive fossil fuels. It also risks undermining the millions of pounds of investments that have already been made based on the understanding that Government is committed to seeing strong markets for EVs, heat pumps, biomass boilers, and other renewable technologies, in place by the 2030s. A reversal on these targets damages the opportunities these sectors are set to provide to the UK, both in terms of growth and jobs, while making the overall energy transition more expensive.
“Last year, the Net Zero Review was clear. The energy transition is the ‘economic opportunity of the 21st century’. Other countries are pursuing this at pace by putting in place generous support packages, as demonstrated by US Inflation Reduction Act. The UK cannot afford to look like it is exiting this race. If the Prime Minister is serious about energy security and ensuring an affordable energy transition, then he must not abandon these existing promises.”

Melanie Shufflebotham, COO and co-founder of Zapmap, said: "The Government should be looking to the future, not the past, so any suggestion of delaying the petrol and diesel ban would be foolish and irresponsible.

"The climate emergency is already here but Ministers continually fail to recognise the urgency of the situation.

"The growing popularity of electric vehicles shows that drivers are keen to play their part in the transition to cleaner transport, which is a critical part of our journey towards net zero. Any delay increases the risk that we'll miss those targets.

"The number of public charging points is rapidly expanding - we're approaching the 50,000 mark, with growth of more than 40 per cent in the last year alone - so the direction of travel is clear. The Government must stick to its promises and start thinking long-term rather than short-term."

Alfonso Martinez from ALD | LeasePlan UK, said: “We urge the government to stay on track with its 2030 target and maintain the UK's position as a leader in zero-emission technologies. Now more than ever, we need to demonstrate consistency and commitment to achieving environmental and sustainability goals. Pushing back timelines could send a confusing message to both businesses and consumers and hinder the ongoing efforts to decarbonise the mobility sector."

Andrew Leech, founder and managing director of Fleet Evolution, said: “We stand of the verge of a second Industrial Revolution as we move away from the reliance on fossil fuels to a future of cleaner energy based on renewables.

“And the UK was very well placed to be right at the forefront of that Revolution to become an economic powerhouse in the new technologies.

“Now we see Government considering moves to harm that development and risk not only our economic futures, but the future of the planet too. The two go very much hand in hand and taking a short term approach like this risks harming both,” he said.