Britain to ban sale of new diesel and gasoline cars by 2040
LONDON — Britain will ban the sale of new cars and vans using diesel and gasoline starting in 2040 as part of a sweeping plan to tackle air pollution that experts say is feasible, if ambitious.
The government announcement Wednesday follows similar moves in France and Norway and comes amid a global debate on how quickly electric and hybrid cars can replace internal combustion engines. Traditional engines running on diesel and gasoline are still popular with consumers as they’re relatively cheap and do not face some limits of electric cars, such as a limited range.
But with the technology for electric and hybrid cars improving, governments are trying to set longterm goals to help guide the investments of automakers and, ultimately, consumers’ choices.
Britain’s government said it would put up US$326 million to help local communities address diesel pollution. The measures are part of a clean air strategy that authorities published only days before a deadline mandated by the High Court.
The government plan includes the consideration of a targeted scrappage scheme for drivers who need support and to provide an incentive to switch vehicles. It also aims for “almost every car and van on the road to be a zero emission vehicle by 2050,” the government said in its overview of the program.
Frederik Dahlmann, an assistant professor of global energy at Warwick Business School, described the plans as “ambitious but realistic.”
“I am confident enough that the industry will be able to respond within that timeline,” he said.
It would, however, require significant investment in the infrastructure, such as a network of charging stations, that is required to make electric and hybrid vehicles more widely popular. Another point of focus is improving batteries so that they last longer.
So far, growth in electric and hybrid vehicle sales has been strong, but from a low base.
Analytics company IHS Markit estimate that sales of internal combustion engines are expected to fall from 17 million vehicles in 2015 across the EU to about 12 million in 2025, which would still make up a significant portion of cars on the road.