UK set to phase out petrol-pow­ered cars

The Star Early Edition - - INTERNATIONAL - Kylie MacLellan

BRI­TAIN will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel-pow­ered cars from 2040 as part of a plan to get them off the roads al­to­gether 10 years later, En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Michael Gove said yes­ter­day.

It fol­lows a sim­i­lar an­nounce­ment ear­lier this month by the French gov­ern­ment, while Ger­man cities Stuttgart and Mu­nich have also said they are con­sid­er­ing ban­ning some diesel ve­hi­cles.

The Bri­tish gov­ern­ment has been un­der pres­sure to take steps to re­duce air pol­lu­tion af­ter los­ing le­gal cases brought by cam­paign groups, and in May set out pro­pos­als for a scrap­page scheme to get rid of the most pol­lut­ing ve­hi­cles.

Ahead of a June elec­tion, the gov­ern­ing Con­ser­va­tives pledged to make “al­most ev­ery car and van” zero-emis­sion by 2050.

“To­day we are con­firm­ing that means there should be no new diesel or petrol ve­hi­cles by 2040,” Gove told BBC Ra­dio.

The step will likely ac­cel­er­ate the de­cline of diesel cars in Europe’s sec­ond-big­gest mar­ket, where they are blamed for poor air qual­ity.

Gove also said the gov­ern­ment would make £200 mil­lion (R3.4 bil­lion) avail­able to lo­cal au­thor­i­ties shortly for schemes to re­strict diesel ve­hi­cles ac­cess to pol­luted roads.

He said he favoured road-by-road restric­tions for diesel ve­hi­cles rather than out­right bans from town cen­tres or costly ve­hi­cle scrap­page schemes, but did not rule them out en­tirely if they were lo­cal au­thor­i­ties’ pre­ferred op­tions.

Ear­lier this month, Volvo be­came the first ma­jor tra­di­tional au­tomaker to set a date for phas­ing out ve­hi­cles pow­ered solely by the in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gine by say­ing all its car mod­els launched af­ter 2019 will be elec­tric or hy­brids.

De­mand for diesel cars fell 10 per­cent in the first half of the year in Bri­tain while sales of petrol ve­hi­cles rose 5 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try data.

In­cen­tives

Sales of elec­tric and hy­brid mod­els are up by 30 per­cent this year, the fastest-grow­ing sec­tion of the mar­ket, but still ac­count for less than 5 per­cent of new car reg­is­tra­tions.

Mike Hawes, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the So­ci­ety of Mo­tor Man­u­fac­tur­ers and Traders (SMMT), said con­sumers should be given in­cen­tives to buy such cars.

“De­mand for al­ter­na­tively fuelled ve­hi­cles is grow­ing, but con­sumers have con­cerns over af­ford­abil­ity, range and charg­ing points,” he said. “We could un­der­mine the UK’s au­to­mo­tive sec­tor if we don’t al­low enough time for the in­dus­try to ad­just.”

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