The Prime Minister has confirmed that the UK government is bringing forward its ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel-engined cars and vans from 2040 until 2030 – although some hybrids will be allowed until 2035.

The widely anticipated move to electric cars was confirmed by Boris Johnson in a column he wrote for the Financial Times. The ban is part of a 10-point plan that he has set out to make the UK carbon-neutral by 2050.

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Johnson wrote that the government will “invest more than £2.8 billion in electric vehicles, lacing the land with charging points and creating long-lasting batteries in UK gigafactories. This will allow us to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans in 2030.”

While 2030 is a full decade ahead of the initial date by which the government planned to ban sales of new combustion-engined vehicles, certain hybrid cars and vans “that can drive a significant distance when no carbon is coming out of the tailpipe” will be allowed to be sold until 2035. The Department for Transport has said that what constitutes a “significant distance” will be defined through consultation, although it is likely that the regulations will allow plug-in hybrid, but not regular hybrid, powertrains. Hydrogen vehicles will be allowed to be sold as they are zero-emission vehicles.

The Department for Transport has said that it will published a Green Paper in the coming months that will set out the UK’s post-EU regulatory regime for CO2 emissions from new vehicles. It said this will consider overall fleet efficiency as well ass how to best deliver the transition to zero emission cars and vansd by 2030.

The £2.8bn investment includes £1.3bn investment to accelerate the roll-out of EV charging points “in homes, streets and on motorways across England”. The government has also pledged £582 million in grants to buyers of zero- or ultra-low-emissions vehicles.

The government has also pledged to spend £500m in the next four years to aid the development of mass-sale EV battery production in the UK. That latter commitment is part of a wider £1bn package to boost investment in UK manufacturing bases, including the Midlands and North East.

A total of 75,946 new electric cars have been sold in the UK so far in 2020, accounting for 5.5% of the total of 1,384,601. That represents a 168.7% year-on-year increase, with the market expanding rapidly as manufacturers rapidly roll out new EVs.

Given the likely growth, several manufacturers have already committed to ending pure-ICE sales before 2030. Bentley recently announced that it would sell only electric cars from 2030, while Volvo is committed to only offering electric or plug-in hybrid models from 2025.

A number of European countries have announced dates for ending the sale of combustion-engined cars, but the UK’s is among the most ambitious. Norway has set a target of 2025, although around 50% of cars sold in the country are electric already, thanks to heavy incentives. Germany is also looking at a 2030 ban, while France has set a target of 2040.

The UK government has also launched a consultation on the phase out of new diesel HGV sales to “put the UK in the vanguard of zero-emission freight”.

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