05 Mar 2024

Motor sector reacts to potential 2030 ICE deadline pushback by PM

Suggestions that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak could be set to push back on UK net zero commitments, including delaying the ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol cars has met a mixed reaction from the automotive industry.
The move is one of a number of measures that may be announced, and would see the date at which new internal combustion engine car sales would end being rolled back from 2030 to 2035.

On the proposed delay, the Prime Minister has been reported as saying: “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.”

Commenting on the potential announcement, SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes 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.”

Lisa Brankin, Ford UK Chair observed: Three years ago the government announced the UK’s transition to electric new car and van sales from 2030. The auto industry is investing to meet that challenge. Ford has announced a global $50 billion commitment to electrification, launching nine electric vehicles by 2025. The range is supported by £430 million invested in Ford’s UK development and manufacturing facilities, with further funding planned for the 2030 timeframe.
“This is the biggest industry transformation in over a century and the UK 2030 target is a vital catalyst to accelerate Ford into a cleaner future. Our business needs three things from the UK government: ambition, commitment and consistency. A relaxation of 2030 would undermine all three. We need the policy focus trained on bolstering the EV market in the short term and supporting consumers while headwinds are strong: infrastructure remains immature, tariffs loom and cost-of-living is high.”

David Martell, owner of home charging companies, Andersen EV and EVIOS and former advisor on EV infrastructure to the Department for Transport from 1995 to 2000, said: “If, as predicted, the government postpones ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, it will be a truly retrogressive step and entirely counter-productive. It obviously won’t be good for the environment, will likely confuse potential car buyers, and it will discourage inward investment in the UK by green-tech businesses. The motor industry has been gearing up for the 2030 deadline since it was announced by the Conservative government three years ago, and the message from carmakers is clear – we cannot delay. For the sake of the economy today and the environment in future years, we need a clear commitment and better policies to make the transition happen. No-one is served by simply kicking the can down the road.”

Ben Nelmes, CEO of New AutoMotive, a transport research group that contributed to bringing forward the UK petrol and diesel ban from 2040 to 2030, 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 EV charging network Be.EV, added: “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.”

The Prime Minister is set to give a speech on the issue at 4.30pm today (Wednesday 20 September). Pausing the internal combustion engine ban is one of a number of potential adjustments, including a delay on the banning of gas boilers being pushed back to 2035.