As suggested in an earlier report, the Government has confirmed that new petrol and diesel cars and vans will not be allowed to be sold in the UK from 2030. However, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are expected to remain on sale until 2035.
The leaders of the fleet industry have been commenting on the decision over recent days. Ashley Barnett, head of consultancy at Lex Autolease, said: “This is a seismic step towards delivering on Government’s Road to Zero policy and one we are fully in support of. However, it simply won’t happen overnight. Petrol and diesel-powered cars accounted for 73% of new car sales this year so far”.
His concerns lie with larger fleets, who will need to act quickly to meet the deadline. He wants the Government to pledge more support, stating: “We’ve heard plenty of pro-EV rhetoric. Now it’s time for government departments and industry bodies to come together to help the UK transition to a net-zero future”.
Alfonso Martinez, managing director of LeasePlan UK, believes the Government still needs to address what happens to EV supply post Brexit:
“We need urgent answers from the Government on what will happen to the continuity of EV supply shipments when trade tariffs are introduced. We must ensure that the UK still keeps its place at the table, otherwise we run the risk of simply not having enough vehicles to meet the demand and ultimately failing to meet our environmental obligations in the long term”.
He also highlighted that the Government also needs to make urgent investments in EV charging infrastructure, particularly in rural areas, to stop negative experiences with charging dissuading people from adopting the technology.
Sue Robinson, chief executive of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), says that the new deadline is "challenging" and noted that despite the continued improvement to the charging infrastructure, there rare remaining barriers to the uptake of EVs including public perception. Robinson commented:
"It is encouraging that hybrids are being given a later phase-out date during this transition as they represent an important steppingstone technology for many motorists who are interested in buying an electric vehicle, but do not yet feel able to go fully electric.
“The current range of Government-led purchase incentives has been effective in stimulating consumer demand and retailers continue to work hard to improve public perception, as initiatives like our Electric Vehicle Approved (EVA) scheme demonstrate”.
The Climate Group, which runs the global EV100 initiative, a group of 92 businesses (currently) committed to having fully electric fleets and installing charging for their staff and customers by 2030, welcomed the ban.
Helen Clarkson, CEO of the Climate Group, said: “We’re pleased to see the Government confirming an end to conventional petrol and diesel vehicle sales by 2030. This is what UK businesses are committed to and calling for through the UK Electric Fleets Coalition.
"We expect hybrids to play a minimal role going forwards – battery electric vehicles are already cheaper to run and will soon be cheaper to buy.
“The Climate Group looks forward to working with our business members and ministers to bring forward new policies to deliver the pledge, as well as encouraging other countries around the world to follow the UK’s lead in the run up to COP26.
“It's encouraging to see the Prime Minister devote his time and energy to bring together so many departments across Whitehall to address the biggest issue of our time”.
The Climate Group also forms part of the UK Electric Fleets Coalition alongside 28 (current) other organisations. BT is a member and Andy Wales, chief digital impact and sustainability officer at BT, added: “Switching to zero emission vehicles is a key part of our decarbonisation strategy, which is why we joined forces with the Climate Group to launch the UK Electric Fleets Coalition.
"Together, we’ve called for the transition to low emission vehicles to be accelerated alongside supportive policy measures which help to unlock infrastructure investment – helping to create a low carbon society and economy”.
Many other continue to add their thoughts to the Government’s new position, especially as more information around funding is revealed. Data from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request recently revealed that Scotland has received more funding per capita for EVs than England and Wales combined.