An electric car being charged

When will petrol and diesel cars be banned?

The sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned in the UK from 2035. Here’s everything you need to know.

Graham King Cazoo

By Graham King

Updated: 3 October 2023

The shift to zero-emission electric cars is gathering pace as authorities around the world act to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change. In 2020 the government announced plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030. In 2023, however, it announced changes to those plans, pushing the ban back to 2035.

So where do things stand now, and what does the ban mean for you? Read on to find out.

What is actually being banned?

In 2020, the UK government announced that it intended to ban the sale of new cars powered solely by engines that use petrol or diesel fuel in 2030. New plug-in hybrid cars that could travel a ‘significant distance’ on electric power alone would be allowed to remain on sale until 2035 under the proposal.

However, in September 2023 Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pushed the ban on petrol and diesel cars back to 2035, meaning that there would be a single deadline and only new pure-electric cars could be sold after that date. That brings it into line with the planned deadline in the EU and many other foreign markets.

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Why is the ban necessary?

According to most scientists, climate change is the biggest threat in the 21st Century. One of the biggest causes of climate change is carbon dioxide.

Petrol and diesel cars emit a lot of carbon dioxide, so banning their sale is a crucial element in the fight against climate change. Since 2019, the UK has had a legal obligation to achieve a net zero level of carbon emissions by 2050. The 2023 changes to the planned 2030 deadline were met with concern by environmental groups, but Rishi Sunak said he still plans to hit the 2050 net zero target.

What will replace petrol and diesel cars?

Petrol and diesel cars will be replaced by zero-emission vehicles that emit no carbon dioxide and other pollutants while being driven. Most people will switch to a battery-powered electric vehicle (EV).

Most car manufacturers plan to have fully electric line-ups by 2030 anyway, as they have long been working towards the previous deadline. Some plan to be electric-only as soon as 2025, so the choice of new petrol or diesel cars in 2030 is unlikely to change dramatically as a result of the delay.

Electric cars powered by other technologies, like hydrogen fuel cells, could also be available. Indeed, Toyota and Hyundai already have fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs) on the market.

When will the sale of new petrol and diesel cars end?

In theory, petrol and diesel cars could remain on sale until the day before the ban comes into force. In practice, it’s likely that very few will still be available at that point because most carmakers will have already switched their entire range to EVs.

Many industry experts are predicting there’ll be very high demand for new petrol and diesel cars in the final few years before the ban comes into force, from people who don’t want an electric car.

Can I still use my petrol or diesel car after 2035?

Existing petrol and diesel cars will not be banned from the roads in 2035 and there are no proposals to do so in the next few decades, or even this century.

It’s possible that owning a petrol or diesel car will become more expensive if fuel prices rise and vehicle taxation increases. The government will want to do something to make up for the loss of revenue from carbon dioxide-based road tax charges and fuel duty as more people switch to electric cars. Charging drivers for road usage is being floated as the most likely option, but there are no firm proposals on the table as yet.

Can I still buy a used petrol or diesel car after 2035?

The ban only applies to the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. You’ll still be able to buy, sell and drive existing ‘used’ petrol and diesel cars after 2035.

Will I still be able to buy petrol or diesel fuel?

With no proposals in the pipeline that would ban petrol or diesel cars from the roads, there also are no plans to ban the sale of petrol or diesel fuel.

The fuels could, however, be replaced by carbon-neutral synthetic fuels. Also known as ‘e-fuels’, these can be used in any combustion engine. A lot of investment is being made into developing the technology, so some form of e-fuel probably will be available at fuel stations in the relatively near future.

Will the ban reduce the range of new cars available to me?

Most carmakers are already gearing up to switch their entire ranges to electric cars ahead of the 2035 ban on new petrol and diesel cars. There are many start-up brands entering the arena, as well, and more will follow in the coming years. So there certainly won’t be any lack of choice. Whatever type of car you want, there should be a pure-electric one that suits your needs.

How easy will it be by 2035 to charge an EV?

One of the challenges EV owners face right now is dealing with the UK’s charging infrastructure. Some areas of the country have few public chargers available and, country-wide, some chargers vary in reliability and speed.

Large amounts of public and private funds are being committed to providing chargers at motorway services, in car parks and in residential areas.  Some oil companies have jumped on board and are planning networks of charging locations that look like, and provide the same facilities as, fuel stations. The National Grid says it’ll be able to meet the increased demand for electricity, as well.

Is the new 2035 date for the ban finalised?

The 2035 date for the petrol and diesel ban may yet change. The UK’s opposition political parties have pledged to reverse the Conservative government’s 2023 policy change, and move the ban back to 2030. With a general election likely in 2024, it could be that the deadline shifts again.

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