The UK Government has announced the ban on the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) powered vehicles from 2030.
This is a significant acceleration of its original plans to ban all new ICE sales from 2040. The market for new Hybrids will continue until 2035, but after that, its zero emission only (currently that means battery electric vehicles (BEV) but who knows what technology has in store).
In many respects, the news of this new date is both unsurprising and welcome. The government sends powerful market signals when it sets its policy direction, and the market has already reacted quickly and strongly to the news of an ICE ban.
Sales of new Diesel powered ICE vehicles have collapsed and there is a strong rise in BEV and hybrid sales. Most people are much more environmentally aware than they were even a couple of years ago and that, along with the government’s market signals is driving buyer sentiment. The VW ‘diesel-gate’ scandal and concerns over air quality have also helped to turn this once ubiquitous motor into a pariah.
There is little doubt that BEVs are better environmentally than ICEs. It’s clear for tailpipe emissions and air quality, and studies now show that the manufacture of EVs, while not exactly ‘clean’ is better than ICEs after around 20,000 miles of driving.
So, it seems that it’s all good news. The challenge now is going to be to build the ICEs needed and create the infrastructure to support e-mobility. This is no easy task.
Since the 1990s major car manufacturers have mostly tooled their factories for diesel. Switching to EVs is a big change and just building the capacity into the system will be tough. In the UK this is exacerbated by concerns about Brexit and the impact on a sector reliant on a just-in-time logistics supply chain that is about to become a lot more difficult.
We also need to roll out a more effective EV charging network, and create easy software interfaces that can be used by all (rather than just tolerated by enthusiasts). The investment needed to accomplish this is significant and, if the government is serious about the 2030 date it is going to have to put some serious cash on the table.
We think the industry will rise to the challenge and it’s certainly an exciting moment in the evolution of mobility. As Grant Shapps said recently, soon people will be amazed that we used to drive ourselves around crowded cities in metal boxes belching smoke. Indeed. Vive la révolution, as our cousins in France might say.