UK and Europe to declare war on new petrol and diesel car sales

The Boris Johnson-led conservative UK government is set to announce a ban on petrol and diesel cars by 2030, bringing forward its previous target set in February by five years, and the European Union may do so by 2025, according to new reports.

The UK’s new target will see only electric and hybrid vehicles allowed for new car sales after 2030, and only all-electric vehicles from 2035, it was reported on Sunday (UK time).

It is the second time in less than a year that the UK will have brought forward its target by five years (it was to be 2040), underlining the accelerating pace of technology, policies, and the sense of urgency to act.

It is understood that the new target will be announced by Johnson as part of a range of environmental measures, according to a report from the Financial Times, which says it quoted industry and Whitehall sources.

The reports from the UK and Europe contrast with Australia, whose conservative government rejected out of hand a Labor proposal to limit petrol and diesel cars to 50 per cent of new car sales by 2030, and as South Australia and NSW contemplate electric vehicle road user taxes, with no sight of any EV incentives.

South Australia and NSW have been roundly condemned for considering an “EV tax”, which flies in the face of global measures to increase electric vehicle adoption such as the UK ban on new petrol and diesel car sales.

Also in news today, the European Union is reportedly considering implementing stricter laws which would effectively amount to a 2025 ban according to German news site Bild. Norway already has a ban in place from 2025, including of hybrids and plug in hybrids.

Europe’s ban may include tightening air pollution legislation to allow just 30mg/km of the damaging nitrous oxide pollution from combustion vehicles (down from 60mg for petrol and 80gm for diesel) from 2025.

It would also see carbon monoxide limits reduced to 500mg/km down from 1000mg for petrol cars, and to 100mg/km from 300mg for diesel cars. The article also mentions a new “Euro 7” standard, and says that synthetic and bio fuels would not be permitted.

As noted by Bild, no combustion car can achieve this, effectively meaning the European Union will “declare war” on the fossil fuel car and refuelling industry.

But it is the UK right-hand drive market that is of the most relevance to Australia.

Currently, one in four cars sold in the UK in 2020 are electrified in some format according to car registration reporting body SMMT, a figure which includes both battery electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrids (PHEV), but also non-pluggable hybrids (HEVs), and “mild hybrids” (MHEV) which are designed to boost engine power and enable “start-stop” at traffic lights.

Of those, a little more than 100,000 (about 8.8%) have been pluggable BEVs and PHEVs, almost twice as many as the same period in 2019.

To transition entirely to electric vehicles will mean more than 2,000,000 right-hand drive electric vehicles a year will need to be supplied to the UK market, meaning it will become even harder for Australian car maker arms to secure units for sale here.

In Australia in 2019, 0.6% of around 1,000,000 vehicles sold were electric of plug-in hybrid or all-electric, a tripling of sales from 2018. Canada will also ban new petrol and diesel vehicle sales from 2035 according to CBC.


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