What does the 2040 ban really mean?
The government will ban petrol and diesel vehicles from 2040 as part of its air quality plan. The bold announcement brought electric and hybrid vehicles into the limelight. Once seen as a new fangled fad, these cars will become the norm for the masses. Here’s what the announcement means to you.
WHAT’S GOING ON?
Despite reports suggesting drastic changes to the law, the likelihood is the only vehicles to be banned will be those that don’t have an electric motor of some kind – so hybrids can still be sold. However, despite impressive growth, alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) currently hold a tiny market share.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of motor industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said there needs to be “incentives to purchase”, adding: “Currently, demand for AFVs is growing but is still at a low level.”
HOW WILL THE 2040 BAN WORK?
The government hasn’t explained how it will implement the ban, saying it will continue to consult. Gerry Keaney, chief executive of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, has called for a clear and considered rampup, saying: “It will have almost no impact on NOx emissions here and now. It is what they do in the short term to kick-start the transition and maintain its momentum that really matters.”
It is also unlikely a nationwide diesel scrappage scheme will be introduced to help people make the transitions – however many car manufacturers have now implemented their own in an attempt to kick-start change.
CAN UK INFRASTRUCTURE COPE?
According to Zap Map, which helps EV owners find the nearest charging point, at the end of August there were nearly 5,000 charging locations, with more than 13,000 connectors between them – that would have to rise drastically to accommodate the government’s plan.
There are fears that the grid could be overloaded by a high number of owners charging their cars at peak times.
UK Power Networks recently shared plans to transform its network to be “smarter” in order to cope with the increased demands of electric cars.
This includes giving consumers the option to delay charging during peak hours to save money, and informing of the best times to charge potentially happening via an app.
National Grid chief executive John Pettigrew said: “We need to find a way for millions of cars to be recharged quickly and simply as soon as possible.” Other key issues he wants addressed include the “standardisation of charging points” and encouraging “technology, automotive and energy industries to work together as closely as possible”.
DOES THE PLAN GO FAR ENOUGH?
Many think these steps don’t. Sue Hayman, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, said: “We have had seven years of illegal air pollution under the Conservatives who have only acted after being dragged through the courts.
“Despite the scale of the problem, we’re presented with more consultations, delays and no detail of how the government’s target will be achieved.”
Meanwhile, Ian Walker, professor of statistics and traffic psychology at the University of Bath, said: “My first impression is this looks unambitious. If we know something has bad effects for public health, then to postpone a solution for decades is, implicitly, to accept that there will be a lot more of those bad effects for a prolonged period.”
THE BAN – AT A GLANCE
The government is banning all “conventional petrol and diesel cars by 2040”. It’s likely that petrol-electric and diesel-electric hybrid models can continue to be sold. There has been no indication of how the ban will be implemented. A government-backed diesel scrappage scheme is unlikely but manufacturers have implemented their own incentives. Clean Air Zones in high-polluting areas could encourage motorists to buy electrified models. Euro 6-compliant engines are thought clean enough to be exempt from any ban.
“Electric cars will soon become the norm”