Last month’s announcement by the government that it is to delay the ban of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by five years has met with a mixed response from the fleet industry.
The Prime Minister said that the decision to delay the ban in the UK from 2030 to 2035 was taken to give the country more time to prepare and to put the consumer in greater control of the transition to a zero emission road transport system. Rishi Sunak said that the cost of living crisis was a major factor in the government’s thinking, and that the extra time would give the UK more opportunity to improve its charging infrastructure.
According to the PM, the government was ‘working hard’ to make the world a leader in electric vehicles, and that it was still committed to becoming Net Zero by 2050.
There has been a mixed response from the fleet industry – some welcoming the delay, and others feeling frustration and disappointment.
“The overwhelming feeling is probably one of irritation”, said Paul Hollick, chair of the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP). “While some of our members will be pleased about this because it takes the pressure to electrify away for the time being, the reaction that we are seeing across the fleet sector to this news is largely negative. Fleets have done some incredible work when it comes to electrification and it feels as though the can has been kicked down the road in a fairly arbitrary fashion by a Government that sees this move as politically expedient”, said Hollick.
Gerry Keaney, chief executive of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, said that the announcement will “frustrate many while offering relief to others. Those that have made huge financial and strategic investments in this technology and mobilised their customers and workforces for decarbonisation will be worried that Government is applying the brakes. Others will be grateful for the extra breathing space this delay provides. They will be hoping that it gives more time for costs to come down and consumer attitudes to change.
Many business leaders within the fleet and electric vehicle sector expressed concern about the impact the delay would have on manufacturing and investment. Doubt remains on a number of key issues. It is not yet clear whether the sale of hybrid vehicles, which would have been permitted until 2035 under the 2030 ban, will now be allowed until 2040. The government have also not confirmed whether the ban on new petrol and diesel lorries in 2040 will remain in place or also be pushed back.
Last month a survey revealed that only 16% of drivers in the UK believed the government should go ahead with the 2030 date.