Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has told the BBC that the proposed date for the ban on the sale of new combustion-engined cars could be brought forward another three years to 2032.
The deadline for new petrol, diesel and hybrid sales had been posted at 2040, before a shock government announcement last week advanced the plans by five years. Mr Shapps’ comments today will frustrate industry bodies like the SMMT, which labelled the 2035 proposal ‘extremely concerning’.
Mr Shapps said the forceful shift to electrification would happen by 2035, “or even 2032” in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live. He also confirmed that the government will launch a consultation on the feasibility of such a tight turnaround.
It is not a complete surprise; when Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the 2035 date last week, he said combustion-fuelled cars would be taken off sale as soon as possible.
The move comes ahead of an international climate summit in Glasgow in November, at which global leaders will discuss ways to bring down emissions and slow down climate change. The UK is working towards a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The SMMT has repeatedly stated that the government’s emissions targets are unrealistic and impracticable.As long ago as 2018, CEO Mike Hawes said: “The 2040 target is challenging enough; but to achieve market-wide penetration of zero emission vehicles by 2032 is virtually impossible without a massive upgrade to the national charging infrastructure and the reinstatement of a world-class package of incentives to encourage uptake of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.”
He reaffirmed his beliefs last week, when he accused the government of having “moved the goalposts for consumers and industry on such a critical issue”. He notes that EV vehicles still make up just a fraction of new car sales, and the government has sent mixed messages with the withdrawal of its plug-in car financial incentive.