UK plans petrol and diesel car sales ban from 2040

27 Jul, 2017 9:25am Martin Saarinen

The car sales ban, which does not include hybrids, comes as part of a wider plan to tackle air pollution across the UK

The UK will ban the sale of all petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040 onwards as part of a move to tackle air pollution.

The sales ban, which does not include hybrids, follows an earlier air quality draft report published by the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in May this year. The Environment Secretary Michael Gove will published the full air quality plan following months of consultation and legal battles.

The car industry has been moving in the direction of increased electrification in cars for some time and an jumbo-bg poll of 5,700 motorists conducted before the announcement shows that 82% believe sales of plug-in (electric and plug-in hybrid) cars will have overtaken conventional combustion-engined cars by 2040 - 64% think it will happen by 2030. 

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The Government also proposed introducing more ‘clean air zones’ across the UK - charging drivers of high polluting vehicles has yet to be ruled out. A targeted diesel scrappage scheme is also potentially on the cards. Councils with local pollution hotspots will be required to lay out their plans by March 2018 and finalise them by the end of the year. While most of these projects will be funded by the Government, diesel drivers could also be expected to contribute to some of the costs. In the plan, DEFRA announced: "Measures to improve air quality will therefore be funded through changes to the tax treatment for new diesel vehicles, or through reprioritisation within existing departmental budgets." 

In addition, proposed new laws mean manufacturers found to be using 'defeat' devices on their vehicles to cheat emissions tests could face criminal and civil charges, with fines of up to £50,000 for every device installed.

Petrol and diesel ban: battle against poor air quality

The Government estimates that poor air quality poses the largest risk to public health in the UK, costing the economy £2.7 billion in lost productivity. To combat the health epidemic, the Government wants to accelerate the uptake of green vehicles across the country.

Local authorities will be able to dip into a £3 billion fund on improving air quality. The air quality package is said to include £290 million towards a national productivity investment fund which will go towards low emissions taxis. 

In addition, councils will also be handed a green bus fund to convert existing public transport, and £1.2billion towards cycling and walking schemes, as well as £100 million to tackle roadside pollution.

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Road infrastructure will also be changing, with £255 million towards changing road layouts such as speed bumps, speed limits and roundabouts, in addition to reprogramming traffic lights. The Government will also invest £100 million towards improving the UK's charging infrastructure. 

While some will question whether £100 million is enough to bring the UK's charging infrastructure up to standard by 2040, Chargemaster told jumbo-bg it believes "the UK's charging infrastructure will be ready by 2040" to handle a sales ban on petrol and diesel cars. A spokesman told us: "Yes, we will be ready by 2040. The infrastructure is growing rapidly. Five years ago there were around 3,000 public charging points, today there is over 13,000 - and there's a huge increase in home charging." 

Chargemaster also pointed out that the majority of charging takes place at home. "We see around 100,000 home charging sessions per week, compared to 5,000 public charging sessions." However, for those drivers without access to home charging, Chargemaster says it's already rolling out 25 rapid charging stations per month and expects this to increase in the future. 

"Though funding from the Government is always welcome, the private sector is taking the lead here and we will be ready by 2040."

However, Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said that it isn't enough for just the private sector to contribute. "What is needed is all the different stakeholders [to contribute], Government, manufacturers, distribution networks, energy companies. One of the frustrations for manufacturers [that] have been putting vehicles on the market is that the infrastructure has not kept pace." 

The UK isn't alone in announcing a ban on the sale of diesel and petrol vehicles from 2040. France's newly elected president, Emmanuel Macron, announced a similar ban earlier this month in order to ensure the country is able to meet emissions targets agreed under the Paris climate accord. 

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