BEIS Committee: Ban new petrol and diesel cars by 2032, not 2040

MPs sitting on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee have urged the Government to bring its 2040 ban for new petrol and diesel car sales forward to 2032 - in light of the recent findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The IPCC last week published a landmark report on global warming to mark its 30th anniversary, outlining for the first time the stark differences between a global temperature increase of 1.5C and a 2C trajectory. Specifically, the report reveals that the half-degree difference will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

In the wake of the IPCC report, BEIS has today (19 October) published its own report recommending that ministers should “bring forward a clear, precise target” of only allowing new zero-emission vehicles to be sold in the UK post-2032.

Entitled electric vehicles (EVs): driving the transition, the report argues that the Government’s current approach to electrifying road transport is “inconsistent”, with the recent move to reduce its existing EV grant by up to £1,000 per customer, for example, standing in contrast to the aims of its Road to Zero strategy.

Drawing on research from businesses including Tesla, Nissan Europe, BMW and Toyota, the report urges ministers to align all new transport policies and decisions on grants and subsidies with a zero-emission road transport target. The National Grid, the RAC and BYC UK were also consulted during the compilation of the report. 

“EVs are becoming increasingly popular, and present exciting opportunities for the UK to develop an internationally competitive EV industry and reduce our carbon emissions – but for all the rhetoric of the UK becoming a world leader in EVs, the reality is that the Government’s deeds do not match the ambitions of their words,” BEIS’s committee chair Rachel Reeves MP said.

“The UK Government’s targets on zero-emissions vehicles are unambitious and vague, giving little clarity or incentive to industry or the consumer to invest in electric cars. If we are serious about being EV world leaders, the Government must come forward with a target of new sales of cars and vans to be zero emission by 2032.”

Specifically, the report recommends that the proposed cuts to Plug-in Grants for new EVs, which are due to come into effect in November, are scrapped by the Department for Transport (DfT).

It additionally calls for measures to be introduced that ensure EV drivers will benefit from preferential Vehicle Excise Duty rates, with such measures being brought into effect for company cars “without delay”.

As for the automotive industry, the report calls on the Government to work more closely with top carmakers to create a national auto industry that is “attractive” for investors and companies looking to locate new EV facilities in the UK. 

The recommendation comes as Dyson begins the first phase of its £116m investment to expand its EV testing facility in Wiltshire, but also coincides with Jaguar Land Rover’s announcement that it will temporarily close its Birmingham plant as it moves some of its operations to Slovakia.

Moving the date

The report is the latest in a string of calls for the UK’s 2040 date for the phase-out of new petrol and diesel car sales to be moved forward.

Earlier this year, the German Aerospace Centre warned European ministers that the date will have to be moved to 2030 if the auto sector is to play its part in holding global warming to the Paris agreement’s 1.5C goal.

Similarly, think tank The Green Alliance has argued that an earlier phase-out for new diesel and petrol cars would affect the looming gap in the UK’s legally binding 2030 climate target. A 2030 deadline would cut the gap by 85%, or 98 million tonnes of CO2e, it claims.

Industry response 

In response to today’s BEIS Committee report, members of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) have claimed that a 2032 target would be “unrealistic” for the automotive industry. 

“Government’s 2040 ambition was already extremely challenging, so to fast-track that by eight years would be nigh on impossible,” SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said. 

“We said we need world-class infrastructure and world-class incentives to have any chance of delivering, so the recent cuts to the Plug-in Car Grant and lack of charging facilities – both of which are severely criticised by the Committee – show just how difficult it would be to accelerate this transition.”

Hawes added: “Zero-emission vehicles make up just 0.6% of the market, meaning consumer appetite would have to grow by some 17,000% in just over a decade.” 

Similarly, the Renewable Energy Association (REA) has called for better charging infrastructure and additional grants and subsidies to encourage EV uptake. 

“If we want to build EVs in the future, as the Government has outlined, then we first need to build markets for them,” the REA’s policy manager Daniel Brown said. “To do so requires consumers feeling confident that they can reliably access chargers at a range of locations, including at home, on-street and in hubs.

“One key way to support the range of EV charging developers is to ensure that there are enough vehicles on the roads using their charge points. Benefit-in-Kind rates for electric company cars are currently heading in the wrong direction, up to a frustrating 16% next year, and should be reduced to 2% in the Autumn Statement to bring us in line with Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland.”

Sarah George

Comments (1)

  1. Keiron Shatwell says:

    The Road to Hell is Paved With Good Intentions but it certainly isn’t awash with EV charging points.

    Until the plug in point is as common place and as easily accessed as the fuel pump the issue of battery range is always going to be an issue. Yes range has improved with many cars now boasting 300 miles on a full charge but that only equates to about 200 mile realistic range on an 80% charge (I’m giving a 20-30mile reserve in the tank). Yes that is about 3hrs on a motorway run by which time most drivers need a break but when there are 2 charging points in the service station can you imagine the chaos or the queues to charge up? Who wants to wait for an hour to plug in?

    Forget banning liquid fuel engines by a given date and work on developing the much needed charging and clean generation infrastructure. Fix the problem that city dwellers may face when they don’t have a permanent car parking space at their dwelling or if they live in a block of flats. Install charge points in every car parking space, every supermarket space, every office parking space. Make sure the electricity needed to recharge all these EV’s will come from a reliable, clean, non fossil fuel source (over 50% of all electricity generated in the UK is currently gas).

    Get the charging network sorted and range becomes much less of an issue. 200 miles would get me from my home to Glasgow Airport and home again (just) but having charging points along the way would mean less worry about traffic problems or having to sit for hours waiting for a charge point to become free. Living in a city would you actually need more than 100 mile range if your work place, supermarket and shopping mall all had charge points?

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