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No more dieselPrime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that the UK will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans in 2030, although hybrids “that can drive a significant distance with no carbon coming out of the tailpipe” will be permitted until 2035.

The move is part of the Government’s 10-point “Green Industrial Revolution” to turn the UK into “the world’s number one centre for green technology and finance” that also includes enough offshore wind farm capacity to power every UK home by 2030, and electric vehicle advances that include a £2.8bn investment in “lacing the land with charging points and creating long-lasting batteries in UK gigafactories”, said Johnson. Cleaner public transport, zero-emission planes and ships, greener homes and schools and replanting of 30,000 hectares of trees every year by 2025 are also on the agenda.

Predictably, there has been plenty of reaction from the fleet industry to confirmation of the timetable for a switch to electrification:

Gerry Keaney, chief executive, BVRLA:

Gerry Keaney, Chief Executive, BVRLA - Image 7“2030 is an extremely aggressive phase-out target, but one that will be embraced by many drivers and fleet operators. The 2035 extension for plug-in and full hybrids provides an essential lifeline for those facing a greater zero-emission challenge. Vehicle rental companies and van fleet operators will be very relieved to have this additional breathing space but will need clarity on exactly what types of hybrid are in scope.”

Alfonso Martinez, managing director, LeasePlan UK:

LEASEPLAN PORTRAITS“The UK Government’s plans to bring forward the ban on new fossil fuel vehicles to 2030 are suitably ambitious, and a welcome sign that it is taking the nation’s transition to EVs seriously. However, the Government still needs to address the elephant in the room: what happens to EV supply post Brexit? We need urgent answers from the Government on what will happen to the continuity of EV supply shipments when trade tariffs are introduced. We must ensure that the UK still keeps its place at the table, otherwise we run the risk of simply not having enough vehicles to meet the demand and ultimately failing to meet our environmental obligations in the long term.

“The Government also needs to make urgent investments in EV charging infrastructure, particularly in rural areas, to ensure the switch is as frictionless as possible. This needs to happen sooner rather than later; bad experiences with charging stations early on will only serve to dissuade people from going electric, making widespread adoption even more challenging.”

Ashley Barnett, head of consultancy, Lex Autolease:

Ashley Barnett, head of consultancy, Lex Autolease“This is a seismic step towards delivering on government’s Road to Zero policy and one we are fully in support of. However, it simply won’t happen overnight. Petrol and diesel-powered cars accounted for 73 per cent of new car sales this year so far.

“2030 will come around particularly quickly for businesses with large fleets of traditionally-fuelled cars and vans. With the new target, they’ll have just over two replacement cycles to make the shift. Although more businesses are exploring switching to electric vehicles already, today’s announcement makes this transition much more pressing and firms will need to start to act now.

“An acceleration of the UK’s EV infrastructure rollout, incentivising new and used purchases, plus investing in renewable electricity sources and making the UK attractive to BEV suppliers in a global market must be at the top of the agenda if we are ever going to hit this ambitious deadline. We’ve heard plenty of pro-EV rhetoric. Now it’s time for government departments and industry bodies to come together to help the UK transition to a net-zero future.”

Jon Lawes, managing director, Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions:

Jon Lawes Hitachi 2020“Momentum towards electric vehicles has been gathering pace in recent months as drivers benefit from the increasing number of options available on the market, combined with attractive incentives.

“However, building demand for EVs to meet the revised 2030 target must go hand in hand with delivering the infrastructure needed to make rapid charging a reality.

“Accelerated by a fundamental shift in attitudes towards climate change, our own research shows that over quarter of consumers are now considering purchasing an EV, so demand is definitely there to drive a green industrial revolution.”

Mike Hawes, chief executive, SMMT:

SMMT chief executive, Mike Hayes“We share government’s ambition for leadership in decarbonising road transport and are committed to the journey. Manufacturers have invested billions to deliver vehicles that are already helping thousands of drivers switch to zero, but this new deadline, fast-tracked by a decade, sets an immense challenge.

“We are pleased, therefore, to see Government accept the importance of hybrid transition technologies – which drivers are already embracing as they deliver carbon savings now – and commit to additional spending on purchase incentives.

“Success will depend on reassuring consumers that they can afford these new technologies, that they will deliver their mobility needs and, critically, that they can recharge as easily as they refuel. For that, we look to others to step up and match our commitment. We will now work with government on the detail of this plan, which must be delivered at pace to achieve a rapid transition that benefits all of society.

Simon King, director of sustainability and social value, Mitie:

Simon King Mitie 2020“Today’s announcement from Government bringing forward the deadline for future sales of petrol and diesel sales and additional funding for EV charge point infrastructure is a positive step. As one of the UK’s biggest private-sector fleets and with the largest number of electric vehicles, we believe that the future of fleets is electric.

“With the biggest barrier to our EV rollout being a lack of on street charge points, this further investment will help us go further, faster and give our drivers peace of mind that they can plug in and charge wherever, and whenever, they need to. We look forward to significant future announcements and funding to ensure that on street charging points are available to all drivers without off street parking, so no-one is left behind the zero carbon mobility transition.”

Poppy Welch, Head of Go Ultra Low:

Poppy Welch“Fast-tracking the end of sale of new petrol and diesel cars to 2030 is both a positive and ambitious step for the country’s clean energy revolution. From 2035 all new cars and vans will have zero tailpipe emissions and until then PHEVs will be available as a stepping stone technology for drivers.

“The UK electric vehicle market has experienced phenomenal growth in the past 10 years with what looks set to be a record-breaking number of registrations in 2020. While less than a handful of EVs were on sale in 2011, there are now more than 100 models available. Similarly in 2011, there were just 34 rapid chargepoints across the UK yet today, a driver is never more than 25 miles away from a rapid chargepoint anywhere along England’s motorways and major A roads. If this is the sort of progress made in 10 years, we’re excited to see what we can achieve in the next 10.”

Jamie Hamilton, head of electric vehicles, Deloitte: 

Jamie Hamilton Deloitte 2020“Today’s show of commitment to electric vehicles should help convince consumers that it is worth investing in the technology ahead of the 2030 deadline. With more than half of consumers already considering an EV, today’s announcement is likely to prompt an acceleration of sales. The sector is already on a sharp upward trajectory, with EV sales poised to overtake diesel imminently. As an increasingly viable option for consumers, any additional boost to the EV sector could see the sales of electric vehicles challenge petrol alternatives. However, this will only happen if consumers are convinced that the necessary charging infrastructure is in place.

“The news also has big implications for fleet operators, potentially upping the pace of change in this market. Despite the ban being a decade away, many companies will already be thinking carefully about the implications to their fleet. There are already major financial and environmental benefits associated with transitioning to electric, but any wholesale change requires careful planning around infrastructure and operating models.

“With the timeline now set, the race is on for the UK’s charging infrastructure to keep up, with capacity likely to be tested at peak times. Continued coordination with charging infrastructure planning is essential for the sustained growth of EV adoption. Consumers will need to see a joined up approach that considers how many chargers are needed, what kind of chargers are needed and what the underlying power networks look like.”

David Brennan, CEO, Nexus Vehicle Rental:

David Brennan - CEO Nexus Vehicle Rental David Brennan - CEO at Nexus“With a ban on the sale of diesel and petrol cars brought forward by another five years to 2030, businesses must now put solid plans in place to support their journey to net zero and transition to the use of electric vehicles (EVs) in their fleets.

“For some time, there has been concern that the UK’s infrastructure requires further support to push businesses and consumers towards greener mobility solutions, with the lack of charging points highlighted as one of the main challenges for those considering the transition, and a barrier to the wider adoption of EVs. With £1.3bn of Government investment now allocated to roll out EV charging points and grants for EV buyers stretching to £582m, the Government’s renewed commitment to sustainable transport solutions should help combat this challenge. Indeed, in the Budget 2020 announcement Rishi Sunak claimed that, within a few years, no one will ever be more than 30 miles from a charging hub. More than eight months on, this still appears an ambitious claim.”

Steve Nash, CEO, Institute of the Motor Industry:

Steve Nash IMI 2020“We knew it was coming, but of course the implications for the automotive industry are monumental; manufacturers now know that they must replace their entire product offering with electrified vehicles in less than 10 years. That can surely only mean that their ranges will shrink significantly compared to today. Let’s hope that consumer choice remains front and centre.

“Currently around just 5% of UK automotive technicians are adequately trained to work on electric vehicles. The ramp-up plan for all those who are likely to work on electrical vehicles – from service and repair technicians to those working in the roadside recovery and blue light sectors – now must be addressed as a matter of urgency. And that means some of that £12bn investment promised by the Prime Minister needs to be put towards skills training.”

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