May 3, 2023
The UK government’s decision to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 is a significant part of its action plan to achieve a net-zero emissions target by 2050. However, there is some confusion about the details of the rules impacting the industry and the wider public and leading to speculative consumer retail trends. In this post, we’ll clarify the details of the ban and explore the implications, challenges and opportunities it presents.
The ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will come into effect in 2030. Car manufacturers will no longer be able to produce new vehicles that run solely on petrol or diesel from that date. The UK government first announced the 2030 ban in November 2020 as part of a broader plan to reduce the country’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, following years of discussion within the industry.
In 2030, along with electric vehicles (EVs), hybrid vehicles with ICE (Internal Combustion Engines) and “significant zero emission capability” will still be available to purchase new. However, the government will eventually phase these out, too, with “all new cars and vans to be fully zero emission at the exhaust by 2035”. This second target has been shuffled backwards and forwards between 2040 and 2035, adding to the confusion in consumers’ minds about the rules. After a concerted amount of research, we can confirm that the current target date to ban hybrids for sale is 2035.
The UK government estimates that the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 will help to reduce carbon emissions by around 1.5 million tonnes per year by 2035. This forecast involves a complex equation with many considerations, such as the adoption rate of new technology, power sources for electric vehicles, the impact on the wider transport network, and any indirect effects of the ban on society or the economy. With all these unknowns, the estimates cannot be wholly accurate. Some parties argue that the government would get better results by solely targeting carbon reduction in other commercial sectors, such as agriculture, but this ignores the fact that road transport is responsible for around 20% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions (UK government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy – source?). In 2019, private cars were responsible for around 55% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions from road transport, which amounted to approximately 67 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. Cars remain a significant source of carbon emissions in the UK and many other countries.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), an independent advisory body that guides the UK government on climate policy, noted that the transport sector is one of the most challenging areas to decarbonise due to the large number of petrol and diesel vehicles on the road, the high cost of EVs, and the currently limited availability of charging infrastructure. Some European capitals and city centres have already made their city centres diesel-free zones. One question diesel owners might have is, will that happen in the UK? Either way, the evident push towards Zero-Emissions Vehicles (ZEVs) and the immaturity of the supporting systems appear to be shaking consumer confidence in the new car market and changing consumer purchasing trends.
Even the discussion leading up to the ban significantly impacted consumer purchasing trends. The average age of cars on UK roads is increasing, with an average of 8.8 years, according to the Department for Transport. Concerns about the availability and affordability of new cars and uncertainty about new car legislation have created higher demand in the used car market, pushing prices up significantly.
People would rather spend less on a stop-gap car in an uncertain climate than invest in a new vehicle. New car sales have seen a significant downward trend since the plummet in 2020 when UK sales fell by 29.4% and never really recovered. 1.6m new cars were sold in 2022, down from 2.3mil in 2019.
As older petrol and diesel cars remain on the road longer, they will still require annual MOT checks to ensure they are roadworthy. Fewer new vehicles on the road mean fewer MOT exemptions for the first three years. This regular revenue generation will help garages navigate the green transport revolution. MOT scheme providers will require radical new investments in equipment and training to support the rapidly changing technology in the sector.
The legislation supporting ICE restrictions is undoubtedly challenging the industry to roll out EV infrastructure faster and drive technology improvements more quickly. As we have seen, consumer confidence in the new tech is not high, leading to the new car sales market languishing. The lead times on the best ZEV products are frustratingly long, and the supporting infrastructure needs investment to facilitate the transition of the masses quickly. The production methods of the new technology are also high in carbon emissions right now, requiring significant investment in research and development to adapt manufacturing processes to align with the concept.
However, the ban also presents significant opportunities for innovation and growth in the car industry. Electric and hybrid vehicles will likely become more affordable and available as production increases and technology improves. Legislation is undoubtedly stimulating interest and gradually boosting sales in ZEVs, which will reduce net carbon emissions in the long run. As an MOT provider, staying one step ahead of the game is essential to ensure your business is agile in these changing times. MOT Juice is an expert in the industry who will keep you up to date with current industry news. Our innovative compliance management system can help you effortlessly manage all aspects of your compliance and mitigate risk within your business. Take a free trial here.
Overall, the UK government has set an ambitious agenda to decarbonise the transport sector, and banning new hybrid and petrol/diesel cars is part of this strategy. However, whether the government and OEMs can facilitate this policy by improving the infrastructure enough remains to be seen. MOT businesses must adapt to the changing landscape of the green transport revolution and ensure they have the necessary expertise and equipment to service and maintain the new generation of vehicles. The ban encourages the wider public to embrace new technologies and contribute towards a more sustainable future. The challenge is the rapid progress required to make this new technology accessible to the masses and fit for purpose.