Aftermarket split on 2030 ICE ban delay – full reaction

The five-year delay to the UK’s ban on the sale of new ICE cars has been met with a range of mixed reactions from across the aftermarket.

While some, such as the Independent Garage Association, were “pleased” with the extended timeframe “much-needed”, others, including the Institute of the Motor Industry, said it poses a “serious risk” of losing momentum.

Some, like the CEO of LKQ Euro Car Parts Andy Hamilton, has gone further still, revealing the decision has caused “palpable anger” across automotive “if not for its diluting of key climate change policy, then for how it could damage investment appetite in the UK”.

The decision, announced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak this week (20 September), means the ban on pure-petrol and -diesel cars will now come into force in 2035, when just new electric cars will be allowed on sale. This now aligns the UK’s target with that of the European Union (EU).

The previous 2030 deadline – first announced in 2020 and rubber stamped by Boris Johnson a few years later – would’ve allowed for certain hybrid powertrains capable of ‘significant zero-emission running’ to be sold alongside EVs between 2030-35.

The PM cited the need to not burden the public with “unrealistic” policies, especially during the current cost of living crisis.

“In the last year, the elephant in the room has been the question of whether the UK will be ready by 2030,” added Hamilton. “Some of the biggest critics among vehicle manufacturers to yesterday’s news had also been loud voices on the uphill battle 2030 represented.”

Hamilton cited the “massive” shortfall in charging point infrastructure – both public facing and commercially – as well as the financial struggles felt by independent garages that had to retool and upskill staff to provide EV services.

This was not a view shared by IGA chief executive Stuart James. He said: “The announcement represents a reality check that the infrastructure required to support wholesale EV adoption in the UK is currently lagging behind where it would need to be, had the 2030 ban remained in place,” said Stuart James, IGA chief executive.

“In the current challenging economic climate, to impose the high cost of new electric vehicles on businesses and consumers, would be a step too far, so pushing back the ban date to 2035 is the right thing to do.”

On the other hand, Steve Nash, CEO of the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) said: “The announcement by Rishi Sunak, whilst not surprising, significantly under-estimates the hard work and commitment those in the automotive sector have already shown to meet the 2030 target.

“There’s now a serious risk that businesses and individuals will take their foot off the pedal and the great success the IMI has had in engaging the industry to commit to investment in EV skills will lose momentum.”

He added that the deadline shift “also demonstrates a distinct lack of understanding of the pressures a multi-technology vehicle parc places on the automotive workforce”, citing the upskilling that has already taken place “at a financial strain which businesses and individuals have justified because of the expected increased EV adoption”.

2030 ICE ban delay: what now needs to be done

Looking forward, James, Nash, and Hamilton give similar over what now needs to be done.

“Investing sooner rather than later will still be important for garages to retain customers making the switch to a plug-in,” said Hamilton. “Government support will be important for this journey, as will garages’ communication with new and existing customers about their EV capabilities.

“Whether the date is 2030 or 2035 may be beside the point. What we’ve lacked over the last few years is the strategic vision by Government to deliver on a challenge like the ICE ban. Without this direction, then 2035 risks representing a new arbitrary deadline.”

Similarly, the IGA has called upon the government to use” this extended timeline wisely” by developing plans to boost EV infrastructure, reduce the price gap between EVs and traditional vehicles, and provide adequate support for both consumers and the automotive sector during this transitional period.

Nash’s, as well as the IMI’s, point struck similar cords. He said: “It is absolutely crucial that the shift to 2035 is not seen as a ‘free pass’ to delay investment in infrastructure and training.

“Therefore, having made this change, the government must now understand the multiple challenges the sector faces and provide the right support to ensure the UK economy and wider society can continue to rely on the automotive sector.”

Other aftermarket reaction to the 2030 ICE ban delay

There has been a plethora of other reactions to the ban’s delay.

Mark Field, chief executive of IAAF, said: “IAAF is calling on the government to listen to the concerns of the automotive aftermarket and allow it to play a greater role in the consultations on Net Zero. The aftermarket industry is the leading provider of service, maintenance, and repair of the 34 million vehicles on UK roads, so it needs to be part of the discussion.

“Much has been made of the country’s triumphant road to an alternative-fuelled future, but the aftermarket, as the pinnacle of a circular economy that has been gearing up for a very diverse set of vehicles arriving on its shores for some time, yet again faces the goalposts being moved with little consultation.

“Everyone wants to do the right thing on climate change, but they don’t want to be unfairly penalised and faced with changing their mode of transport to a more expensive alternative at a time when the cost of living is so high,” Field adds.

“The issue is that without certainty and regular consultation, the automotive industry cannot appropriately plan for the future, whether that’s powered by petrol and diesel, electricity, or another alternative fuel.

“The delay proves that 2030 was simply a target, and in order to realistically achieve this then more discussion with the experts in service, maintenance and repair needs to happen.”

The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle dealers in the UK, called the decision “unsurprising” and which created “uncertainty”.

Chief executive Sue Robinson said: “The announcement to delay the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030 to 2035 is unsurprising given the Government’s inertia around driving EV adoption in the UK.

“This change will likely create further uncertainty for the industry, however, it does align the UK automotive industry with the European Union, its largest international trading partner, and automotive dealers support this.”

She added: “UK franchised dealers, the customer-facing section of the industry, do not think that the UK’s 2030 target was achievable within the existing EV incentive framework and support a move towards aligning the UK market with the European Union.

“Ultimately, the phasing out of ICE vehicles in the UK requires a clear strategy from the government to achieve it, it must be supported by forward thinking legislation and attractive initiatives to encourage motorists in making the shift. If the UK is to reach its 2050 net-zero targets it needs to support the automotive industry, now more than ever.”

Mike Hawes, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) chief executive, was another to blast the PM.

He said: “The automotive industry’s commitment to a zero-emission new car and van market remains unchanged. Net Zero cannot be achieved without this sector’s decarbonisation. The Prime Minister has confirmed that a mandate to compel the sale of EVs – the single biggest mechanism to deliver Net Zero – will be published shortly, starting in January 2024.

“Manufacturers will continue to put innovative new models on the market but consumers need encouragement to buy more than ever. Today’s announcement must be backed up with a package of attractive incentives and measures to accelerate charging infrastructure to give consumers the confidence to switch.

“Carrots move markets faster than sticks.”

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  1. The motor industry should have been fighting the ban on proper cars since it was announced. The actual market does not want the less practical electric vehicles. Fix the product. Don’t ban competition.
    It is disgraceful that politicians are removing choices. Equally disgraceful that the manufacturers are ignoring the market and wasting resources on what politicians want to force.