New diesel and petrol vehicles to be banned from 2040, including low-range hybrids too

Last July, the government confirmed the sale of new diesel and petrol cars and vans will be banned from 2040 in a bid to tackle air pollution, and leaked info now suggests the ban could include hybrids too.

Now, leaked reports claim ALL new cars must be able to travel at least 50 miles using electric power only by 2040, or they will be banned from sale. As it stands, 98% of new cars currently on the market would fail to meet this requirement, prompting industry leaders to call the plans unrealistic.

The sale of new pure petrol and diesel cars and vans is set to be banned in the UK from 2040.

Will hybrids really be banned too?

The plan to include hybrids in the ban is still under consultation, with various government departments having a say in the final document. Reports suggest environment secretary Michael Gove has openly backed the plans, but transport secretary Chris Grayling is holding back.

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport (DfT) said that reports of the government planning to ban hybrid cars by 2040 is “categorically untrue”. We’ll have to wait for the proposals to be made public to clarify the government’s position.

Toyota Prius ban

In its current form, the Toyota Prius would not meet the 50-mile electric-only requirement

However, the rumours have already prompted a response from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), that says that “unrealistic targets and misleading messaging on bans will undermine efforts to realise this future”.

SMMT chairman Mike Hawes commented: "Vehicle manufacturers will increasingly offer electrified versions of their vehicles, giving consumers ever more choice, but industry cannot dictate the pace of change, nor levels of consumer demand.

“Unrealistic targets and misleading messaging on bans will only undermine our efforts to realise this future, confusing consumers and wreaking havoc on the new car market and the thousands of jobs it supports."

“Road to Zero”

The 2040 ban is part of the government’s “Road to Zero” clean air plan, which is set to be revealed in full imminently. Other proposals include helping councils tackle emissions on a local level.

Measures include retrofitting buses and other public transport to make them more environmentally friendly, changing the phasing of traffic lights, removing speed bumps and improving road layouts.

Taxis and buses contribute towards NOx and NO2 levels more than private cars in London.

The government’s Road to Zero plans could see big changes for public transport providers too

Although there’s been lots of hype surrounding potential “toxin taxes”, the government won't yet mandate councils to charge dirty vehicles for entering cities or using particular roads unless they fail to solve pollution by other means.

Below is a full list of local authorities where Clean Air Zones are likely to be introduced and, while a toxin tax is seen as a last resort, some of the most polluting vehicles could be subject to restrictions in these areas.

Local authority areas that could become Clean Air Zones.

Last year in which the government was ordered by the courts to produce new plans to tackle illegal levels of harmful pollutant nitrogen dioxide after judges agreed that previous plans were insufficient to meet EU pollution limits.

The proposals don’t address pollution from construction, farming and boilers – but ministers argue it is better to have a scheme for tackling the worst pollution hotspots first rather than rushing out a comprehensive strategy.

While we previously reported on rumours from the Times suggesting that environment secretary Michael Gove was expected to announce a “very targeted” diesel scrappage scheme, it is thought ministers won’t consult on the matter until later this year.

Clean Air Zones will be funded by government, but implemented by local authorities.

Partly, this appears to be down to an increased wariness of being seen to punish drivers of diesel cars who were previously encouraged to buy them due to their lower CO2 outputs.

What about the clean air zones?

Speculation had been rife of potential ‘toxin taxes’ for drivers of the most polluting vehicles, but these ‘clean air zones’ will not necessarily be required to include a charging zone according to the government.

The government will hand down responsibility for local emission levels to local councils. As such, the draft gives a list of suggestions of ways local authorities could reduce toxin levels:

  • Exploring innovative retrofitting technologies (such as exhaust filters) and new fuels;
  • Buying ULEVs and encouraging local transport operators to do the same;
  • Encouraging private uptake of ULEVs via ensuring adequate charge-points;
  • Encouraging use of public transport, cycling, walking, park and ride schemes, and car sharing;
  • Improving road layouts and junctions to optimise traffic flow, for example by considering removal of road humps;
  • Working with local businesses and neighbouring authorities to ensure a consistent approach; and
  • Charging certain types of vehicles to enter or move within the zone.

Filling up fuel pump c

Industry reaction to proposals…

British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) chief executive Gerry Keaney commented: “The government’s 2040 zero-emission milestone provides a clear deadline for vehicle manufacturers and aligns with plans already outlined in other countries.”

“We must ensure that clean air zones are consistent across the UK – not only having the same emissions standard requirement, but also in terms of their signage, enforcement and penalties for non-compliance. Vehicle rental and leasing companies will be able to offer vehicles that are 100% compliant.”

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has stated that clarity is urgently needed to identify which vehicles will be affected in each of the Clean Air Zones. Elizabeth de Jong, FTA’s director of UK policy, said: “Uncertainty will hurt industry – FTA understands we won’t know where lorries and vans will be restricted until next year, giving only a year for businesses to plan their fleets, leaving many with potentially large bills on top of rising operating costs in a difficult trading environment.”

Is it time to go electric?

RAC roads policy spokesman Nick Lyes said: “The government signalling the end of the sale of conventional petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 is a bold move – but the reality is that the UK is nowhere near ready for such a sweeping shift to fully electric vehicles and a huge amount of work will need to be done to meet this deadline.”

What do you think about the plans? Are you ready to call time on petrol, diesel and even hybrid power? Let us know in the comments.

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