2030 ban on petrol and diesel cars DELAYED until 2035 – official

  • PM confirms the ban on the sale of ICE vehicles will be delayed
  • It follows a leak this morning on news the government planned to water down its net zero goals
  • News announced this afternoon is met with a mixed reaction from industry

Time 6:22 pm, September 20, 2023

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced he will be delaying the ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars until 2035.

The leaked announcement was confirmed in a statement by the PM this evening in a major U-turn.

The 2030 ban announcement came amidst a raft of measures to water down the government’s net-zero plans.

Sunak insisted the UK was already ahead of allies in reducing emissions and could not impose ‘unacceptable costs’ on British families.

He said: ‘The risk here to those of us who care about reaching net zero, as I do, is simple: If we continue down this path we risk losing the consent of the British people.

‘And the resulting backlash would not just be against specific policies but against the wider mission itself meaning we might never achieve our goal.

‘That’s why we have to do things differently.’

Car makers have issued mixed reactions to the news. 

Ford’s UK boss Lisa Brankin said delaying the 2030 date risked undermining Ford’s business decisions.

She said: ‘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.’

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes added: ‘Consumers must want to make the switch [to electric], 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.’

Baroness Parminter, chair of the House of Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee, was ‘dismayed’ by the PM’s announcement and said he had ‘chosen to kick the can down the road, rather than pick it up and put it in the recycling bin’.  

She added: ‘I will be writing to the Prime Minister, on behalf of the committee, outlining our concerns and seeking clarification on his roadmap to net zero.  

‘The overwhelming evidence we have received so far in our current Electric Vehicles (EVs) inquiry is that both industry and the public need policy certainty, consistency, and clear leadership on the journey to net zero.

‘The target to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030 was welcomed by all the industry we took evidence from. It is they who are crucial in providing the low-carbon products and services we need to get to net zero.’ 

Sunak detailed the plans to the public this afternoon after putting them to Cabinet ministers in a hastily arranged call in response to a leak of his net-zero plans.

Speaking from his press briefing room today, Sunak added: ‘No-one in Westminster politics has yet had the courage to look people in the eye and explain what’s really involved. That’s wrong, and it changes now.

‘It cannot be right for Westminster to impose such significant costs on working people, especially those who are already struggling to make ends meet and to interfere so much in people’s way of life without a properly informed national debate.’

Meanwhile, new off-roader manufacturer Ineos Automotive’s CEO Lynn Calder welcomed the PM’s decision.

In a press statement, she said: ‘2035 is a more realistic target for consumers to switch to net zero vehicles and will allow the industry to meet the challenge, but achieving this target is made harder by the current singular focus on EVs as there is a real risk that that we will fail and that it will be more expensive for consumers, with the whole industry competing for finite resources such as the lithium crucial for batteries.  

‘EVs are an important part of the mix, but we believe betting only on one technology will limit options and stifle innovation.’

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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