Electric vehicle charge points via PAElectric vehicle charge points via PA


Government warned against ‘political point-scoring’ as ministers open door to delaying 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles

  • Government ministers refuse to rule out delaying ban on new petrol and diesel cars
  • Rishi Sunak yesterday said eco measures must not ‘unnecessarily give people more hassle’
  • Reports in national media say ban is now a ‘matter of active discussion in No 10’
  • Experts warn ministers not to use issue to curry favour with voters
  • Industry bosses call for clarity over situation

Time 7:57 am, July 25, 2023

The government has been accused of ‘political point-scoring’ after ministers refused to rule out a delay to the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles.

In a car-crash round of media interviews yesterday (July 24), foreign office minister Andrew Mitchell gave contrasting statements about the future of the ban.

Appearing on BBC Radio 4, the 67-year-old said of the policy: ‘I’m afraid I can’t prophesy for the future. I’m saying that it is in place and it remains in place.’

That came just minutes after he told Times Radio: ‘I think the important thing is to wait for any announcement from the government.’

Later on in the day, Rishi Sunak was non-committal about the future of the 2030 ban, when quizzed on the government’s Net Zero targets.

The PM appeared to open the door to a delay by telling reporters that eco measures must not ‘unnecessarily give people more hassle and more costs in their lives’.

However, fellow minister Michael Gove today described the 2030 date as ‘immoveable’.

It comes amid a major rethink following the Tories’ slim by-election win in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, which was put down to voter anger at Labour over the upcoming Ulez expansion.

The Sun’s political editor, Harry Cole, yesterday tweeted that the 2030 ban is now a ‘matter of active discussion in No10, unofficially’.

Now, following a day of mixed messaging, experts have been queueing up to give their opinions on the potential delay, with industry insiders warning the government not to use the issue simply to curry favour with voters.

Philip Nothard, insight director at Cox Automotive, told Car Dealer: ‘While some will welcome a prospective delay, others will find the idea abhorrent – from an environmental and commercial point of view.

‘I imagine there will be considerable anger from many OEMs at the prospect of any change, especially if it’s coming from the cynical perspective of attracting votes.

‘The 2030 deadline was always ambitious and its misalignment with the rest of Europe an irritant, but OEMs, their global supply chains, and an entire emerging sector of infrastructure partners have committed all they have to this timetable.

‘Many will believe a U-turn now simply unimaginable.

‘Incentives from the UK government are crucial to encourage and support consumer transition to BEVs and accelerate the shift towards sustainable transportation.

‘Any deviation at this stage must be down to pragmatism and what’s best for the transition to zero tailpipe, the automotive sector and the car-buying public, not simply as a tactic to curry favour with voters.’

Ginny Buckley, founder and CEO of Electrifying.com, added: ‘The car industry has been gearing up for the electric car transition for many years – not just in the UK, but globally.

‘With the number of electric models available in the UK set to increase dramatically over the coming years, turning our backs on the 2030 petrol and diesel ban is almost irrelevant.

‘The mixed messages coming from Westminster are confusing not only for consumers, but also for car dealers and the wider industry.

‘We’re in a global race to electrify our car industry, which is why we need to think about how pushing back the ban will impact us on the world stage.

‘Our car industry creates £14bn of added value for the UK economy, and we can’t afford to take a backstep on plans now.

‘Instead of political point-scoring, we have to help consumers get ready for the switch.

‘This means providing the right incentives rather than taking them away, ensuring our public charging infrastructure is plentiful and reliable and cutting through the confusion about what the ban means for people and how it will affect them in practice.’

U-turn would ’cause massive financial damage’ to car industry

Among the other experts to warn against any change in policy was Quentin Willson, spokesman for EV lobby group Fair Charge UK.

The former Top Gear host warned that a U-turn would result in a mass exodus of OEMS to Europe from which the industry may never be able to recover.

He said: ‘The government needs to understand that UK car makers have invested billions in future electric models in seven-year product cycles.

‘Moving the 2030 halt of sales of combustion cars and vans will hit our car industry enormously hard.

‘The unintended consequences of any policy U-turn will be that our car industry will simply move their factories to Europe.

‘This will cause massive financial damage to our £8bn car industry, from which it may never recover.’

The SMMT also called for clarity over the policy, with chief executive Mike Hawes telling Car Dealer: ‘Car makers are committed to the decarbonisation of their products, with many having already announced dates for the phasing out of traditional powertrains in advance of the UK’s timetable.

‘Manufacturers have invested billions of pounds into this transition and now need the market to accelerate – not just to get a return on that investment, but to meet societal and environmental ambitions.

‘With the choice of electrified products expanding and their undoubted benefits apparent – a quiet driving experience, the potential for lower running costs, and a reduced environmental impact – governments must provide the support and encouragement for all consumers to purchase, charge and own.’

RAC electric vehicle spokesman Simon Williams added: ‘If the government was to move away from the 2030 deadline, it would simply be kicking the can further down the road while potentially harming EV sales and slowing down the roll-out of much-needed additional charging infrastructure.

‘We think it’s important the government reviews whether its current policies are doing enough to get UK drivers to make the switch en masse.

‘Reintroducing a form of plug-in car grant aimed solely at cheaper electric models would be a bold but ultimately positive move that would tempt people away from petrol and diesel models next time they change their vehicles.

‘And, for those who regularly make longer trips or who will never be able to charge an electric car up cheaply at home, a cut to the VAT rate at public chargers from 20 per cent to match the five per cent levied on domestic would also make going electric an easier choice.’

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

More stories...

Motors Advert
Server 108