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Will the 2030 Petrol and Diesel Car Sale Ban be Scrapped?

Amid a climate crisis that grows more severe and urgent by the day, one major step being taken by the UK to reduce carbon emissions is a complete ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

Announced by the government in late 2020, the ban seeks to transition the country – and its sizable automotive industry – to zero-emission vehicles. However, questions have been raised about the feasibility of making the transition a success, so much so that some have called on the government to reverse its plans. But is such a decision likely?

Details of the ban

The government’s plan to decarbonise the UK’s auto industry has two major steps; the first being the 2030 ban on selling new petrol and diesel cars, and the second ensuring that all new cars and vans are completely zero-emission. The intervening period allows for the sale of hybrid vehicles that can travel “significant distances” without emissions.

In light of the policy, car manufacturers are transitioning in greater numbers to making electric vehicles (EVs) – and, with sale prices on EVs still higher on average than for petrol and diesel cars, they are selling more expensive cars as a result.

How will the ban affect motorists?

If the ban were to come into effect today, auto buyers would be facing difficulties. EVs currently have a higher price tag than other vehicles, although recent data indicates that they are significantly cheaper to run. The cost to manufacture them is also decreasing thanks to advancements in battery technology, so things can be expected to improve on that front by the time that the ban comes into effect. In the meantime, though, as demand for EVs increases even today, leasing can be a good option to get around the nastier prices.

Perhaps more pressing are concerns about the UK’s infrastructure to support EVs, which must expand quickly to meet the growing demand. Motorists may also be put off by the comparatively low ranges on some electric models.

Will there be a backlash?

There are calls from some quarters to scrap the planned ban altogether, with motorist lobbying group FairFuelUK citing a report – which it funded – from economic consultancy CEBR that projected a catastrophic loss of tax revenue as well as hits to jobs in the automotive industry.

YouGov polling data from September 2021 shows the UK population split on the issue but with opposition to banning petrol and diesels favoured by 46% to 39%. Support for measures to tackle the climate crisis in general, though, is high, and it is hard to imagine the government climbing down on one of its flagship green policies. As the transition continues and a carbon-free driving environment becomes easier to envision, we may see views change.

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