The transport secretary Grant Shapps has revealed carmakers told him that a “more realistic” target date for the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans would be 2035. The current target is 2030.

A meeting with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) in March, gathered key stakeholders from vehicle manufacturers to raise their concerns on meeting zero emissions targets. This is when the issue was raised.

Shapps, who co-chaired the 2nd Zero Emission Vehicle Transition council, said:

“Many of the manufacturers felt the DfT needed to set an end date for sale of vehicles with internal combustion engines, with many suggesting a realistic phase out date could be 2035.

“Combined with incentives and tax support, they thought that such a deadline would help drive the acceleration of zero emission vehicles until the time when price parity is achieved with petrol models”.

In a recent Fleet News survey, completed by more than 600 fleet decision-makers, almost two-thirds of fleets said that implementing a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 is too soon.

Only 29% of participants agreed with the implementation date for cars. 21% of fleets would have preferred the ban for cars to be introduced from 2035, with 22% suggesting a start date of 2040, the original date chosen by the Government.

In November 2020, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced that new petrol and diesel cars and vans will not be allowed to be sold in the UK from 2030. The sale of hybrid cars and vans will remain on sale until 2035.

The manufacturers highlighted to DfT that investment in charging infrastructure and the development of viable batteries are vital for a future thriving EV market.

Shapps said they also said they are looking for governments to provide a “stable policy framework” to stimulate electric vehicle (EV) demand.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, recently said the Government and other stakeholders must put ordinary drivers at the heart of policy and planning:

"We need incentives that tempt consumers, infrastructure that is robust and charging points that provide reassurance, so that zero-emission mobility will be possible for everyone, regardless of income or location.

"When every market is vying for these new technologies, a clear and collaborative strategy engaging all would ensure the UK remains an attractive place both to manufacture and market electric vehicles, helping us achieve our net zero ambition".

Shapps said: “I know we’re all working hard to develop charging infrastructure and boost the uptake of EVs. But the biggest challenge we face, if we are serious about decarbonising road transport, is to bring together governments and industry and to coordinate and co-operate globally.”

The meeting between the DfT and the vehicle manufacturers agreed that the degree of investment and industrial development required to transform the market would be “very significant”.

As part of the Government’s ambition to work more closely with the industry The DfT is now inviting vehicle manufacturers to present their plans in September to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles. Future policy options to support the transition to zero emission vehicles will be discussed.

Shapps' comments suggest there is scope for the deadline to be pushed back from 2030, but further clarity for the industry will likely be confirmed later this year.

Later in the year, the DfT will publish a Transport Decarbonisation Plan, explaining how all transport will achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

Shapps said: “We didn’t set such a bold ambitious target without careful consideration. We know they are tough and demanding on industry. And yet, it was to the huge credit of UK carmakers that their support for phasing out petrol and diesel sales by 2030 was simply overwhelming.

“But if we’re going to be successful in navigating this historic journey and making the car industry a global leader in green manufacturing then we need to work closer together than ever before”.