The shift to zero-emissions electric cars is gathering pace as authorities around the world act to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change. The UK will be among the first to do so after the government announced plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030. But what does the ban mean for you? Read on to find out.
What is actually being banned?
The UK government intends to ban the sale of new cars powered solely by engines that use petrol or diesel fuel, starting in 2030.
Some plug-in hybrid cars, powered by both electricity and petrol (or diesel) engines, will remain on sale until 2035. The sale of other types of road vehicles powered by petrol or diesel engines will be banned in due course, too.
The ban is currently in the proposal stage. It’ll probably be a few years before the legislation reaches a vote in Parliament to become the law of the land. But it’s highly unlikely that anything will prevent the ban from becoming law.
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.
What will replace petrol and diesel cars?
Petrol and diesel cars will be replaced by ‘zero emissions vehicles’ (ZEVs) that emit no carbon dioxide and other pollutants while being driven. Most people will switch to a battery-powered electric vehicle (EV).
Most carmakers are already shifting their focus away from developing petrol and diesel cars to electric cars, and several have announced that their entire range will be battery-powered by 2030. Large amounts of public and private money are being invested in building the charging infrastructure, too.
It’s likely that electric cars powered by other technologies, like hydrogen fuel cells, will 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 2030?
Existing petrol and diesel cars will not be banned from the roads in 2030 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 2030?
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.
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 2030 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 2030 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.
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