2030 ICE ban: Why is the UK deadline now being challenged?

  • The 2030 target on the sale of new internal combustion engined (ICE) cars and vans is left uncertain after recent pressure from within the UK government
  • With the European Union following a similar timeframe and British manufacturers such as Jaguar Land Rover already investing heavily in the switch to electric, why has the government started enacting other anti-green policies?
  • FairCharge’s Quentin Wilson has called for a legally binding confirmation of the 2030 date.

Is the 2030 ban set in stone?

The UK’s 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel powered cars and vans was originally pinned for 2040, a date that was pulled forward to 2030 just a few years ago. This puts the UK ahead of the European Union, who plan to enact a similar ban in 2035.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently told reporters that on the UK’s progress to net zero, he wanted to ensure that the country carried this out in a “proportionate and pragmatic way that doesn’t unnecessarily give people more hassle and costs in their lives”, without delving further into what exactly that would entail.

This lack of clarity, combined with a recent push against low traffic neighbourhoods and the granting of new North Sea oil and gas licences, has left the EV industry concerned on whether the 2030 date will be kept to.

Even though Rishi Sunak told BBC Radio Scotland yesterday that the 2030 ban “remains government policy”, over 40 conservative MPs are continuing to put pressure against that commitment. That pressure is also coming from the media sources that have continuously perpetuated myths about electric vehicles over the past few months.

Quention Willson, founder of the electric car campaigning organisation FairCharge, released a statement in concern of this uncertainty. He has called for a legally binding statement from Rishi Sunak, ensuring the deadline is firmly established:

“The UK has a choice in the global race to stay competitive. To have a strong growth agenda, policies need to be firm, and commitments must be kept. Without these policies and regulations, the UK will be faced with just managing the decline of its motor industry.”

Quention Wilson, Founder of FairCharge

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Why the sudden change in tone?

The recent by-elections in which the Conservatives won the London constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip was seen by many politicians as a vote against the expansion of the capital’s Ultra Low Emission Zone, a thought echoed by Labour leader Keir Starmer.
With a general election on the horizon in 2024, a seemingly significant minority in the Conservative Party see the success in Uxbridge and South Ruislip as vindication that the watering down of green policies and wider net-zero agenda could be a vote winner.

However, in May of this year, the Office of National Statistics reported that 64% of adults in the UK surveyed between April 2022 and May 2023 were ‘somewhat or very worried’ about the impact of climate change, most notably on future generations.

Car manufacturers are fully committed to EVs

No matter what happens to the 2030 date, it looks like car manufacturers are prepared to stick to their electric commitments regardless. After all, the Tesla Model Y is already the best selling car in Europe, even before legislation outlawing the sale of ICE vehicles takes effect.

Meanwhile in the UK, the government themselves partly subsidised Jaguar Land Rover owners Tata’s plan to build an EV battery gigafactory in the south of the country. Jaguar itself will become an EV-only company by 2025, a full five years before that 2030 goal post.

Ford told FairCharge that the company is already “well on the way to becoming an electric passenger car brand by 2030”. Meanwhile, Skoda expects to have six more electric offerings in Europe over the next couple of years, whilst the new to market Chinese entrant BYD are solely offering fully-electric cars in new territories, capitalising on their ever-growing popularity in China.

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