There are now less than 10 years to go until the sale of all new petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned in the UK. This initiative was first introduced by the government in 2017, in response to concerns about the growing climate crisis. The initial deadline was 2040, but then almost exactly a year ago, it was brought forward to 2035. And in November last year, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson officially announced that it would be introduced in 2030. That makes it more ambitious than France, which plans to ban non-electric cars from 2040, and brings the UK in line with the aims of Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands.
Now it bears repeating that the ban doesn’t mean petrol and diesel cars will be gone from the roads by 2030, just that car dealerships won’t be able to sell new ones. (So in case you’re wondering, chances are that our online salvage car auctions here at RAW2K won’t be undergoing some radical changes any time soon.) But it’s an ambitious target, and there are still doubts over whether we’ll actually be able to meet it or not.
What are the main challenges right now?
To be honest, there’s quite a few. We’ll go through some of the biggest ones point by point, but you’ve probably guessed one of them already, and that’s infrastructure.
Charging points are still relatively few and far between across the UK, although it’s obviously one of the government’s top priorities. Many of the electric cars available on the market still have a relatively limited range, and when you combine that with relatively long charging times, it severely limits their use for anyone who doesn’t live or work in largely urban areas. The limited range makes them especially tricky to use for people who live out in the countryside.
There are currently major concerns about the potential limited availability of batteries in the UK, which is obviously going to put a firm cap on how many electric vehicles (EVs) can be produced. Battery shortages are already delaying the supply of some vehicles.
Manufacture and supply
The latest 5-year shift on the deadline has given rise to worries about manufacturing - namely, whether the big carmakers will be able to produce enough electric cars to be able to meet demand.
Last year, in 2020, over 76,000 were sold in the UK. That’s a big increase over 2019, a boost of 169% in fact. However, the fact remains that electric cars still account for just 5.5% of the overall number of new cars registered in 2020. And even if enough are produced…
Electric cars are still too expensive
Growing global awareness of the climate crisis means that there might be an increasing willingness for drivers to switch to cleaner, more electric vehicles - but right now, the fact is that they’re still prohibitively expensive. In fact, currently they’re about 2.5 times as expensive as a comparable petrol or diesel car.
What is the government doing about it?
Obviously they’re all big problems, and not easily surmountable. However, the government is working on solutions.
This is naturally one of the government’s biggest priorities. In 2020, it doubled its electric vehicle (EV) charger fund, hoping to encourage more EV uptake in urban areas like towns and cities. It’s dedicating £1.3 billion of funding to accelerate the rollout of charge points for electric vehicles in homes, streets and motorways, and there are already discussions about some of the money going into a publicly accessible charger monitoring platform. This can then be integrated into satellite navigation systems and route planners, helping people to find their nearest charging point and thus making these journeys easier.
The government has a plan to tackle the battery shortages head-on, primarily by focusing on manufacturing within the UK. Specifically, it’s planning on driving the economy with a further investment of £500 million for battery manufacture in the Midlands and the North of England.
The expense of electric cars
As part of its investment towards meeting the 2030 goal, the government has pledged to provide £582 million in grants for people buying zero or ultra-low emissions vehicles, hoping to make them cheaper and more accessible for drivers willing to switch to them. Of course, that grant isn’t going to last forever, but there’s more good news on the horizon - according to investment bank UBS, the falling battery prices means that electric cars may well end up costing the same as petrol cars by as soon as 2024.
So that just leaves the question of provision, which is all up to the car manufacturers themselves.
What’s been the industry reaction?
The initial reaction to the moving forward of the ban was, as you’d expect, one of dismay. After all, in the space of less than a year, carmakers had seen ten years shaved off their previous target. However, many of the biggest car manufacturers appear to have been somewhat mollified by the scale of the government’s investment. What’s more, many have been adjusting their plans to the growing market trends towards electric vehicles anyway.
Several big manufacturers have now already committed to ending pure Internal Combustion Engine sales before 2030, including Bentley and Volvo. Bentley says it only plans to sell electric cars from 2030 onwards, while Volvo has gone a step further by saying it will only offer electric or plug-in hybrid models from 2025.
Vauxhall have essentially responded to the new deadline by saying it’s tighter than they were expecting, but they’re confident they’ll be able to meet it. Jaguar Land Rover is equally sure of being able to fulfil the government’s expectations.
It helps, of course, that they’re already responding to the way the wind is blowing in the European Union. Germany is another country that’s committed to the 2030 deadline, and it’s home to some of the biggest manufacturers in Europe, including the VW Group, BMW and Daimler - and with those big players already on side, it’s inevitable that the bulk of the market will follow.
However, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has stressed that the government must maintain its focus on infrastructure, as the chance of successfully meeting the target is directly tied to EV drivers being able to recharge as easily as they refuel.
A couple of key things to remember
As we’ve touched upon above, to some extent this change was inevitable. Sales of new diesel cars (as opposed to the salvage cars we sell at RAW2K) have been declining for some time. Before the Volkswagen emissions scandal in 2015, they accounted for 50% of all cars registered in the UK. In 2020, they made up just 15% of sales. Probably no surprise, then, that Ford, Honda and Renault are all removing diesel engines entirely from their range.
For the rest of us, there probably won’t be too much change in the short term. The ban is still 9 years away, and statistically most of us will change cars at least once more in that time. Plus, the ban specifically applies to the sale of new petrol or diesel vehicles - so you’ll still be able to drive used, seized, or salvage cars with petrol or diesel engines until 2050.
And if that’s what you’re looking for right now, then you’re in exactly the right place. Here at RAW2K, we’ve got plenty to choose from in our own online car auctions right here at RAW2K. Our auctions are refreshed on a daily and weekly basis, so there are always new deals to be had, and we’ve got vehicles from a range of leading manufacturers including Ford, BMW and Volkswagen. Why not take a look around our site, and see what you can find?