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Car dealers have their say on 2035 ban as some predict ‘it’ll never happen’  

  • Car dealers, including Wheeler Dealers star Mike Brewer, speak out on 2030 ban delay
  • Used car dealer Brewer says he doesn’t think the ban will ever come into force
  • Franchised and independent dealers speak exclusively to Car Dealer about PM’s announcement

Time 6:57 am, September 22, 2023

Car dealers have said the government’s decision to push back the 2030 ban on petrol and diesel car sales by five years has caused ‘a headache’ for the industry.

Speaking exclusively to Car Dealer, a mixture of some of the biggest franchised and independent car dealers have issued a mixed reaction to the news.

They include Wheeler Dealers star Mike Brewer, who runs two used car dealerships. He said he can’t ‘ever see’ the ban coming into force and believes it will be ‘kicked down the road’ by politicians for years to come.


Speaking to Car Dealer – in a video interview which you can watch above – Used Car Awards host Brewer said: ‘I predicted this several years ago when they first announced the ban on the sale of ICE cars.

‘I always knew that was a deadline we could never meet. It’s an impossible deadline. 

‘Electric cars aren’t the future – and I say that as an electric car owner and user myself. I struggle with it almost on a daily basis.’


On Wednesday, prime minister Rishi Sunak announced the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars would be delayed until 2035. He said the government now thinks it has to ‘do things differently’.

Most car manufacturers said the decision will not alter their plans to push electric vehicle sales, especially as the government’s targets for each manufacturer to sell at least 22 per cent electric cars from next year will remain unchanged.

Darren Ardron, managing director of national franchised dealer group Perrys, told Car Dealer he was ‘concerned’ at the timing of the announcement.

He said: ‘OEMs have geared their business towards this and in some cases carry levels of stock in readiness for this.’ 

Neil McCue, director of Snows Motor Group, which represents brands including BMW, Seat and Volvo, said he also felt sorry for the manufacturers who have worked hard on plans for 2030.

‘Can you imagine the conversations they’re having in boardrooms?’ he said.

‘They have to be able to plan properly and decisions like this just don’t help.’

He wasn’t the only franchised car dealer concerned by the announcement. Peter Vardy, who represents car makers including Porsche, BMW and JLR in Scotland, said the decision ‘complicates’ matters for the industry.

Speaking to Car Dealer, he said: ‘The sector is being tossed about by politicians. Who knows if this next change of policy will last when elections aren’t far away?


‘It’s incredibly complicated for manufacturers to plan and for retailers to react.’

Others, like Peter Smyth, director of family run dealer group Swansway, think it’s ‘too early’ to guess what impact the announcement will have. Smyth said he was waiting for the dust to settle before predicting what it means for the market.

Tony Roberts, of Magna Mazda, told Car Dealer he thought the decision was ‘challenging’ for everyone in the motoring industry.

‘I can understand the moving of the ICE ban to 2035 to mirror mainland Europe – it appears to be an admission that the UK doesn’t as yet have the infrastructure to meet the demands to charge EVs,’ he said.

‘But that is disappointing. Manufacturers have invested enormously and were working towards 2030. I imagine many feel let down by this, and it may dissuade further investment in the UK.’

The delay comes just two weeks after Mini confirmed it will build its new electric models in Oxford. The government is believed to have supported the deal to the tune of £75m.

Roberts said he thinks the current 16-17 per cent of car sales that are currently electric indicates consumers don’t have the confidence to buy EVs.

Spanner in works

Tony Denton, boss of Batchelors Motor Group, which represents Suzuki, Renault, Dacia and Nissan in Yorkshire, said the PM’s decision had ‘thrown a spanner in the works’.

He told Car Dealer: ‘Good old internal combustion – in some guise – will be around for a long time, if it ever even disappears at all.

‘I think 2030 was never going to be achievable and I could not understand why the government could not see that. 

‘Motor dealers and manufacturers can’t help but be a little annoyed about this, but we are an agile bunch. Let’s dust ourselves off – we’ve now got another five years to plan it for, or do we?’

Sean Kelly, managing director of BMW and Mini dealer group Vines, based in the south east, said he also can’t see the announcement derailing manufacturers’ current plans.

He said: ‘Ignoring the vested interests of the political parties in footballing this in the press, I think the move will not slow down the OEM switch to EV production, the consumer adoption of EVs and you could argue the ZEV mandate next year has more influence on EV adoption than a transition date five, or now 10 years, into the future. 

‘The widespread adoption of electric vehicles requires market driven forces – supply, demand, ease of use, value etc – and while massive strides have been achieved in this area, to achieve full market adoption there is still a long way to go.’

Kelly pointed to higher prices for EVs and poor charging infrastructure as two factors currently putting off car buyers.

He added: ‘The majority of EV market share is driven by consumers where the transition is a no-brainer – like business users, company car drivers and retail drivers with easy home charging access. 

‘This delay suggests to me that the government considers their prior strategy isn’t aligned with voter inclination and as such it was an easy, low risk decision to make within an agenda for their re-election ambition.’

Incentives

Stuart Mustoe, CEO of Ford-owned dealer network TrustFord, said he would like to see incentives for buying an electric car introduced again to give the market a boost now.

He told Car Dealer: ‘We all need to support the consumer on the powertrain transition – whether that is infrastructure, product, or total cost of ownership. 

‘In my view, the government should be reviewing the vehicle grant scheme and pace of growth on public charging in the UK to support our industry.’

Used car dealers were equally bemused by the government’s decision. 

Umesh Samani, chairman of the Independent Motor Dealers Association, said ‘no one thought 2030 was achievable’ and added he didn’t think the announcement would change car makers’ current plans.

Daniel Sager, 31, who runs Forecourt E, a specialist dealer selling used electric cars in the New Forest, said he also didn’t believe the delay would change car manufacturers’ global plans.

He added: ‘It will, though, lead to more doom and gloom for EVs. I’m really disappointed with the decision.’

Bournemouth-based Norman Motors’ boss Neil Helliwell, 55, said he wasn’t surprised by the news at all and that he was expecting it.

He told Car Dealer: ‘I think most people in the motor trade probably don’t think we’re ready for that switch over the next six or seven years. I don’t think the infrastructure is there yet.

‘We should be given a choice. It shouldn’t be thrust upon us – let people choose if they want to buy petrol, diesel or electric.’

Ben Harrison Automotive’s Harrison White said he also believed the decision was more of a political one.

‘It’s coming up to election time and I think they’re trying to get people on their side,’ he said. 

‘This gives people the confidence to go and buy a petrol or diesel car again and not be up in arms about being pushed into electric cars they didn’t want to buy.’

What do you think of the ban? Let us know your thoughts by emailing the Car Dealer team using the button below.

Additional reporting: Cameron Richards

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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