Updated petrol and diesel car ban proposed for 2035

All new cars to be electric or hydrogen-powered only by 2035 under new Government proposals

Car exhaust

The Government has announced plans to bring its proposed ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars forward from 2040 to 2035 – and for the first time, the proposed ban now includes hybrids and plug-in hybrids. The updated proposal forms part of the Government’s wider plan for a carbon-neutral UK by 2050.

This update comes over two years after the Government’s original announcement for a ban on new petrol and diesel cars by 2040 in 2017 – a proposal which did not include hybrids or plug-in hybrids.

At a launch event for a United Nations climate summit at the Science Museum in London on Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce that the proposed ban extends to all petrol or diesel vehicles – hybrid or otherwise – by 2035, or even sooner if possible. 

It's important to note that the Government’s new plan is some way off becoming law – public consultation will take place and any resulting bill would need to pass successfully though Parliament. Other factors that could affect the deal’s successful implementation include future general elections and the added complexity of the Brexit transition period.

Should the Government’s plan come to fruition, the new-car market in the UK would consist entirely of electric and hydrogen vehicles from 2035 onwards. It's not yet clear what would happen to the millions of petrol, diesel and hybrid cars on UK roads in that case

SMMT reaction to 2035 petrol and diesel car sales ban

Reacting to the news of the Government’s plan, Mike Hawes, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) chief executive, said in a statement: “It’s extremely concerning that Government has seemingly moved the goalposts for consumers and industry on such a critical issue. Manufacturers are fully invested in a zero-emissions future, with some 60 plug-in models now on the market and 34 more coming in 2020.

“However, with current demand for this still expensive technology still just a fraction of sales, it’s clear that accelerating an already very challenging ambition will take more than industry investment. This is about market transformation, yet we still don’t have clarity on the future of the plug-in car grant – the most significant driver of EV uptake – which ends in just 60 days’ time, while the UK’s charging network is still woefully inadequate.

“If the UK is to lead the global zero-emissions agenda, we need a competitive marketplace and a competitive business environment to encourage manufacturers to sell and build here. A date without a plan will merely destroy value today. So we therefore need to hear how government plans to fulfil its ambitions in a sustainable way, one that safeguards industry and jobs, allows people from all income groups and regions to adapt and benefit, and, crucially, does not undermine sales of today’s low emission technologies, including popular hybrids, all of which are essential to deliver air quality and climate change goals now.”

AA and Engie reaction

Meanwhile, Edmund King, the AA president, said: “Drivers support measures to clean up air quality and reduce CO2 emissions, but these stretched targets are incredibly challenging. We must question whether we will have a sufficient supply of a full cross-section of zero-emissions vehicles in less than 15 years.
“We'll also need a package of grants coupled with a comprehensive charging infrastructure at homes and in towns, cities, motorways and rural locations. At the very least, the Government should take up the AA demand to cut VAT on new EVs to boost sales and make vehicles more affordable to those on lower incomes.
“Manufacturers are also spending billions on developing state-of-the-art hybrids which are zero-emissions for many journeys, but these will also be excluded from sale. This seems a very backward step that could backfire by encouraging drivers to hold onto older more polluting vehicles for longer.”

Alex Bamberg, managing director of charging solutions provider Engie, also has reservations about the Government’s proposals. He said: "It’s definitely another step in the right direction, but it’s got to involve more than just a date.

"The supply chain has to be ready as a whole and the government has got to provide support across multiple areas – corporate and fleet legislation has to be changed to drive the right decisions to be made, car taxes have to be addressed and fuelling has to be made available without compromise."