UK petrol and diesel ban should be brought forward says Government committee

22 October 2018

22 October 2018

The UK ban on petrol and diesel vehicles should be bought forward by eight years, according to a parliamentary group.

A report issued by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committee said the government’s voice on cutting pollution did not match its words, with plans to ensure all new cars are ′effectively zero emission’ by 2040 being heralded as ′vague and unambitious’.

The document also criticised the decrease in electric vehicle subsidies and the lack of charging points in the country.

The committee’s chairwoman, Rachel Reeves MP, said the government’s targets it its Road to Zero plan gave ′little clarity or incentive to industry or the consumer to invest in electric cars. If we are serious about being EV world leaders, the government must come forward with a target of new sales of cars and vans to be zero emission by 2032.’

The report also suggests that Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) should be included in the ban, meaning that only electric vehicles (EVs) and hydrogen-powered cars should be sold from 2032. This would then back the committee’s approach that ′zero means zero’.

The MPs recommend that the Government either acknowledges that petrol and diesel sales will ultimately need to be fully phased out from cars and vans, or admit that it is not seeking a zero-emissions fleet. They believe that ′they cannot have both.’

However, a full zero-emission economy may be difficult to achieve. At the end of March 2018, there were around 38 million vehicles registered on UK roads, according to government statistics. The vast majority of these vehicles are driven by petrol and diesel engines, and it is hard to envisage that by 2032, or by 2040, all of these will be replaced by fully electric vehicles. Therefore, while the ban on new petrol and diesel engine sales will increase numbers of zero-emission vehicles, the used car market will still be able to trade those using the internal combustion engine.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, comments: ‘Government’s 2040 ambition was already extremely challenging, so to fast-track that by eight years would be nigh on impossible. We said we need world-class infrastructure and world-class incentives to have any chance of delivering so the recent cuts to the Plug-in Car Grant and lack of charging facilities – both of which are severely criticised by the Committee – show just how difficult it would be to accelerate this transition.

′Zero emission vehicles make up just 0.6% of the market meaning consumer appetite would have to grow by some 17,000% in just over a decade. This is unrealistic and rejects the evidence put forward by SMMT on behalf of the industry, which is investing billions into these technologies but which recognises consumers need greater confidence and support if they are to buy these vehicles in the numbers we all want.’

Another area under fire in the BEIS report is the recent decision by the Department for Transport (DfT) and Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) to cut grants for electric vehicles by 25%. The BEIS report’s authors say this decision ′has been made too soon and too suddenly’, and ′risks undermining the UK’s burgeoning EV market’.

The committee’s report also says that ′poor provision of charging infrastructure is one of the greatest barriers to the growth of the UK EV market’, and warns ′public charge points will be required in residential areas for the 40–50% of homes in the UK that do not have off-street parking’. The authors highlight there is just one public charger per 98,800 residents in Wales, compared to the North East, where the ratio is one charger per 3,931.