Petrol And Diesel Vehicles to be Banned?

What will the recently announced ban for fossil fuel vehicles mean for both new and existing electric vehicle drivers?

It has been interesting to follow the media response to the announcement on Monday that the total ban on the sale of new fossil fuel vehicles has been brought forward. There have been many queries and issues as well as a fair amount of vitriol from both sides of the argument. 

So why will traditional vehicles be banned?

About one third of all CO2 emissions in the UK come from transport, additionally the air pollution caused by fossil fuel is causing considerable health issues for people across the country.

Therefore, in order to obtain the nation’s target of zero carbon emissions by 2050. Previously it had been announced that traditional vehicles would be retired in 2040, however it has now been stated this would be too late to hit the carbon target.

The announcement was not only about cars, most people have missed the requirement to remove all gas and oil central heating as well as other changes to help us meet the target.

A major change to the original proposal is that now hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars will also be banned meaning only electric and hydrogen cars will be offered for sale.

So, what will this mean?

It will mean that, from this date, only zero emissions vehicles will be available for sale. It is not clear what this will mean for existing vehicles or what incentives will be offered for drivers to scrap existing vehicles or purchase new emission free vehicles. 

We can however presume there will be a number of major actions which will be required in order to meet these targets:

  • An improvement in charging infrastructure 
  • Improvements in battery technology
  • Development of new manufacturing facilities for vehicles and batteries
  • Options to allow the transfer from traditional to zero emission vehicles

There is no clear detail relating to these areas, however, discussion with the Department of Energy and Climate Change suggests there will soon be additional announcements ahead of the 2020 UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 26) which will happen later in the year and is due to be hosted in the UK.

There is considerable work to be done in terms of the UK energy infrastructure developing renewable energy and upgrading of household supplies if we are going to need to increase power usage for vehicle charging and heating. 

Previously there have been car scrappage schemes and whereas Government contents would not be drawn on what a potential scrappage scheme may look like it is certain if we are to grow electric car use from the current 2% to become the majority of vehicles on the road, there will need to be some considerable sweeteners offered to encourage people to make the change.

There have already been suggestions that there would be dedicated manufacturing facilities developed in the UK for both vehicle batteries and new electric cars. Over time, we will look to see how these will come to fruition. 

The bottom line is this demonstrates a step in the right direction in terms of health and the environment. For electric vehicle drivers this is a positive time, there will no doubt be some attractive tax breaks and benefits on top of what is currently being offered such as grants for charge point installation and vehicle purchase. 

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