UK sales of new petrol and diesel cars banned from 2040

Published: 26 July 2017

 Radical clean-air measures due
 Petrol and diesel to be banned
 EVs prioritised - but only from 2040 

The UK Government has announced plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040 as part of sweeping new laws to tackle pollution.

Ministers confirmed a £3 billion clean air strategy on 26 July 2017, including plans to stop the sale of internal combustion engines in two decades' time. A diesel scrappage has been ruled out, as previous ones were 'poor value for money.'

If anyone is in doubt that the automotive industry is experiencing seismic change, the latest news in the past month alone shows how the tide is turning at breakneck speed:

The e-revolution starts here...

Does this mean my current car will be scrapped by 2040?

The Government wants to ban new cars powered by petrol and diesel engines from 2040. Existing car stock will, presumably, merely be taxed to the hilt by then, but ministers want to ensure that all brand new cars are powered by electricity, not fossil fuels.

Electric cars: the future in the UK

This is, of course, the natural direction of travel anyway; electrification is already well underway, so the Government is merely confirming an inevitable industry trend.

It's telling that they think it'll be another 23 years before battery technology and infrastructure are ready to support a full EV economy.

CAR lives with a Nissan Leaf EV

Why is the UK banning diesel and petrol cars?

Ministers claim that 40,000 premature deaths each year are caused by pollution and the wide-ranging measures are designed to clean up Britain's air quality.

There are more immediate changes than the 2040 ICE ban; there is a new £255m fund to encourage local councils to tackle emissions, encourage public transport and - potentially - set up charging zones for the dirtiest vehicles.

TDI: The Diesel Is surely on the way out?

Today's measures surely spell the end for diesel cars, already battered after the Volkswagen emissions scandal of 2015

Local councils will be able to charge owners of diesel vehicles to drive into high-emissions zones.

The Government had to announce its clean air measures before 31 July 2017, in response to an order from the High Court after judges ruled the UK was failing to meet its EU pollution limits.

An EV future: the UK car industry responds

The head of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Mike Hawes, called for better consumer incentives and investment to encourage the take-up of ultra-low emissions vehicles.

Electric cars: the UK is slowly switching on

'Much depends on the cost of these new technologies and how willing consumers are to adopt battery, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen cars,' he said. 'Currently demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles is growing but still at a very low level as consumer have concern over affordability, range and charging points.

'Outright bans risk undermining the current market for new cars and our sector which supports over 800,000 jobs across the UK so the industry instead wants a positive approach which gives consumers incentives to purchase these cars. We could undermine the UK’s successful automotive sector if we don’t allow enough time for the industry to adjust.'

Further questions remain over the integrity of government plans: does the headline 2040 petrol and diesel ban mask shortcomings in its short-term plans? How will the UK electricity network cope with widespread take-up of EVs? Isn't it merely moving the problem from tailpipe to power station? And what about the shortfall in fuel duty, which makes up a large percentage of Treasury tax income?

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By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet