The Department for Transport (DfT) has indicated that the Government wants to avoid a situation where car makers are “selling the maximum amount of petrol and diesel cars right up to the 2030 milestone”.
Speaking at a conference about low emission vehicles in December, Katie Black, joint head of the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) at the Department for Transport (DfT), said: “We do see it as a risk, and we will be looking publicly at ways to mitigate that. What you probably want is a gradual phase out, a gradual shift across the fleet. And we’re looking at how a regulatory regime could support that.”
No further details were given on how sales might be restricted, but a key part of Government strategy will be to promote and encourage private buyers and fleets to change to electric vehicles (EVs) with investment and incentives. £1.3 billion has been invested in strengthening the UK’s charging infrastructure and in extending the plug-in car grant.
Consumer confidence in electric vehicles is growing, with registrations of battery and plug-in hybrid vehicles accounting for more than one in 10 in 2020 – up from around one in 30 in 2019.
The Government is planning to publish a delivery plan, outlining the steps to be taken to meet the phase out dates, Black confirmed.
There will also be a consultation to define the meaning of “significant zero emission capabilities” to outline what vehicles may be sold between 2030 and 2035.
These are likely to be limited to range-extender EVs, which feature a small petrol engine to charge the battery while the vehicle is driven exclusively by its electric motor, or plug-in hybrids.
Nick Molden, CEO of Emissions Analytics said: “In our strong opinion, full hybrids, for a good period forward, is the sweet spot while the supply chain issues around batteries are sorted out.”
Black said there were still many factors that needed to be considered, including on-street charging solutions and supporting the used car market.
Phase out of diesel HGVs
Following a recommendation by the National Infrastructure Commission that the sale of new diesel HGV lorries should be banned by 2040, Black confirmed a consultation will be launched this year on the phase-out of diesel HGVs.
She said: “HGVs are at a much earlier much an earlier stage than cars and vans. We can see what the technological solutions are for those, but, with HGVs, the picture is a lot less clear.
“As we look at the roll-out of charging infrastructure, we really need to make sure that we’re taking into account HGV requirements there and not thinking about cars and vans exclusively.”