The UK plans to ban sales of diesel and petrol cars from 2030

This photo shows an electric car being charged on a street in London.

Miles Willis | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The U.K. will stop selling new diesel and petrol (gasoline) cars and vans from 2030 under plans announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The move is part of a wider 10-point plan for a so-called “green industrial revolution” aimed at generating as much as 250,000 jobs and combatting climate change.

Announced late Tuesday night in an article written by Johnson in the Financial Times, and published on the government’s website Wednesday morning, the plan will focus on a range of areas including carbon capture and storage, low-carbon hydrogen generation, offshore wind and nuclear energy.

The vehicle ban represents an acceleration of prior targets; U.K. authorities had previously said the sale of new petrol and diesel vans and cars would end in 2040. In February, they announced an ambition to bring this forward to 2035.

The new 2030 target comes after what the government described as “extensive consultation with car manufacturers and sellers.” The government will, however, continue to “allow the sale of hybrid cars and vans that can drive a significant distance with no carbon coming out of the tailpipe until 2035.”

In terms of funding, £1.3 billion (around $1.72 billion) will go towards improving electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, while £582 million will be set aside for grants to lower the cost of electric vehicles and encourage uptake.

In addition, almost £500 million will be spent across the next four years on “the development and mass-scale production of electric vehicle batteries.”

Given that internal combustion engine vehicles still represent the majority of vehicles driven on U.K. roads, there are clear hurdles to overcome if the 2030 target is to be met. 

“Less than 10% of cars sold in the U.K. during 2020 so far have been battery EVs,” Tom Heggarty, a principal analyst at Wood Mackenzie, said in a statement.

“Getting to 100% will require a huge effort across the entire supply chain, as well as ensuring that enough fast charging infrastructure is available to keep all new electric vehicles … on the road,” he added.

The U.K. is one of many countries looking to end the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles.

Denmark, for example, has proposed a phase-out of new diesel and petrol car sales in 2030. And Norway, long recognized as a world leader in the adoption of electric vehicles, wants all new light vans and passenger cars sold to be zero emission by the year 2025.

Back in the U.K. Mike Hawes, who is chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said the “new deadline, fast-tracked by a decade, sets an immense challenge.”

Hawes went on to add that the SMMT was pleased to see the government “accept the importance of hybrid transition technologies” and “commit to additional spending on purchase incentives.”

“Investment in EV manufacturing capability is equally welcome as we want this transition to be ‘made in the U.K.’, but if we are to remain competitive – as an industry and a market – this is just the start of what’s needed.”

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