Opinion : It’s looking like 2030 for E-day

Filling up a petrol car

According to widespread reports in the press, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning to move the ban the sale of new petrol and diesel-engined cars from the old cut-off from 2035 to 2030. That’s following a move back in February, when it moved from the previous goalpost of 2040.

So, all of a sudden it looks like the end of new petrol and diesel-engined cars is looming into view rather sooner than we all thought when this concept was first floated not that long ago. Just to put this deadline into perspective, if we’re talking 1 January 2030, that’s a little over nine years away.

Go backwards the same amount of time and David Cameron was Prime Minister, Nick Clegg was Deputy Prime Minister and Ed Milliband was the Leader of the Opposition. On AROnline we were reporting on MG Motor UK’s disastrous PR and marketing in the wake of the launch of the MG6. Mike owned a Saab 9-3 and was fixing it, while I was commenting on how we were in a new golden age of Bangernomics – not that long ago, then.

It’s close, very close

And that’s why the end of new petrol and diesel-powered cars sales in the UK now seems very close, if the Government goes down this road. Don’t think for a moment, it’s not going to happen – I think it’s a fairly safe bet that the Labour Party is going to win the next General Election, and it’s not exactly been known for being the driver’s friend, despite us once having a Deputy Prime Minister who was famous for having ‘two Jags’…

It’s not as if we don’t need drastic action to take place, and take place now. Climate change is accelerating and, if it goes on unabated, we’re going to be suffering the effects of an environmental emergency the likes of which we’ve never known before within 50 years, possibly sooner. Some would say that this is possibly too little, too late, but the problem is that, as a society, we’re addicted to fossil fuels, and weaning us off is going to be tough.

The Government hopes that banning the sale of Internal Combustion Engined (ICE) cars will accelerate the UK’s aim to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050. Will we be successful? I hope so. I know we’re all doing our bit now, and will continue to do more – but, according to EnvironmentalProtection UK, all road transport still contributes 22% of the UK’s total CO2 output, so this is a necessary move.

There’s a long way to go

There are lots of unanswered questions. Electric cars currently take a little over 2% of the UK market, and that figure is growing rapidly. Plug-in hybrids take another 2%, and are also on the rise – so, right now, a little less than 5% of all new cars are capable of running on electricity only for a significant distance. The charging infrastructure isn’t in bad shape, although the standard of some of the public chargers leaves a lot to be desired. So we have some way to go.

The main balancing act for legislators is how to cater for those beyond 2030 running around in their petrol and diesel-powered cars. And this is the bit that bothers me. Okay, so electric cars will be cheaper and more widespread on the used car market by 2030, but they’re still highly inconvenient for many people and way more expensive than their ICE counterparts – those in towns and cities who aren’t able to fit home chargers for a start. Let’s not even mention those who live in rural areas for whom public charging is difficult.

Nine years from now, will the mainstream users of ICE-powered cars be legislated out of them prematurely, and will they be made unfeasibly expensive to run through Vehicle Excise Duty and increasing fuel duty? Will we be forced out of the towns and cities, and kettled into some kind of classic car mileage cap? Will classic cars be exempted? When will we know?

I can’t pretend to feel reassured that our Government – any Government – is going to have this planned with every contingency catered for. One only needs to view what’s happening now to be filled with fear. When will we get a clear plan? Will there actually be one? I don’t think so for a moment. All I am confident about is that it’s good news for the climate and city and town centres – but it’s probably going to be all stick and no carrot for car owners who won’t – or can’t – go to electric power.

Tesla car charging

Keith Adams

38 Comments

  1. Two reasons I believe that 2030 will not be the year of end of sale of new IC engined cars 1) Voters will not support the change, 2) Politicians are not as powerful as they believe, the car industry will flex its considerable business muscles and override the year of implementation

  2. I am reliably advised that JLR who built the new engine plant at Wolverhampton fairly reecently are still developing and improving their Petrol and diesel engines!

    You are right its the people left behind with ICE cars that will be the problem (or have the problem!)

    • And why wouldn’t they? They are in the same place as virtually every other manufacturer – 9 years is a short time but its still around 2 model cycles and they will need powered by something – I very much doubt they will start designing new ICE from a clean sheet, but existing engines will need continual modification between now and then to meet ever tightening emission rules

      • Any model not on sale in the next couple of years is likely to still be on sale in 2030 and so will need to be optimised to be a BEV or a hybrid. It is tricky (impossible ?) to optimise one platform to be both as all the ‘big bits’ are different sizes and weights and need to go in quite different locations. The Engineers are going to be busy…

        • PSA certainly seem to have managed to create a platform that can handle BEV or ICE drive trains and JLR’s new MLA platform to be seen shortly in the new Range Rover and XJ can be electric or ICE

  3. And no mention of the environmental cost of producing electric vehicles, the ever-increasing demand on the national grid, and the cost to ordinary people – not earning salaries on the level of MPs and Ministers – when they are unable to buy either new or secondhand cheap replacements when their current vehicles reach the end of the road.

    Another part of this sanctimonious we-know-best is the headline “Millions of highly polluting used cars from rich countries are being “dumped” on developing nations, according to a UN report.”

    The report claims “Between 2015 and 2018, some 14 million older, poor quality vehicles were exported from Europe, Japan and the US. Four out of five were sold to poorer countries, with more than half going to Africa.”

    Then comes the damning “Experts say” in “Experts say that up to 80% failed to meet minimum safety and environmental standards in exporting countries.

    As exhaust emission levels, safety protection and other criteria were tightened over the years, so that large numbers of once decreed “safe and clean” vehicles are obviously no longer legal in many countries. Decades back, the US banned certain Land Rover models that are still being driven quite legally in the EU – and the UK!

    All these people huffing and puffing about past colonialisation are totally blind to this new version of it. But who in the UN ever walks anywhere?

    • Why the sudden rush to electric? Ten years is a short timeframe for every manufacturer to become ready. Will there be exemption for the likes of Lotus & Morgan?
      Has any thought been given to the “Well to Wheel to Scrap” lifecycle of electric vs ICE?
      If the Diesel debacle is anything to go by then probably not.

  4. Well there’s nine years to go isn’t there? and hybrids have another five years after so at least internal combustion engines have some time to go before they become extinct. Perhaps the petrol/diesel engine’s time has come rather like the first generation electric and steam cars were in the first quarter of the 20th century by petrol cars. The car industry has form on resisting change,look at the resistance put up to improve safety and emissions starting fifty years ago,if by 2030 manufacturers haven’t used that time to move their products to zero emission rather than waste time fighting the inevitable then they deserve to become extinct

    • All Electric does NOT equal ZERO EMISSION! It merely moves the emissions to central points i.e. point of manufacture and point of power generation. Whilst electric vehicles may make your town a better place to live, consider the consequences of living next door to the power station or having to work in the mines that produce the raw products and toxic waste for your battery pack.

      I’m all for clean energy but not at the expense of shifting MY pollution over the border therefore becoming some other bugger’s problem.

  5. If someone still buys a new petrol car in, say 2028, it could be in service till at least 2038 or thereabouts so the back up repair and service facilities for ICE cars still need to be available.

    Judging by any Governments inability to maintain our roads to a decent standard I also doubt their capability to provide enough charging points by then. If I am still driving by 2030 I still doubt it will be an electric car… time will tell?

    • The Government are not going to be providing charge points, they will be provided for the same reason people provide filling stations, ol refineries etc etc today, because people can make good money selling energy to EV owners.

  6. I have a feeling that uptake on EVs is going to grow rapidly within the next 4 years or so. I’m a devout petrol head, but I’ve pretty much made up my mind that my next car will be my last ICE car. So within the next 5 years I’ll be seriously looking to get in to an EV. By that time hopefully range and charge times will have improved immensely.

    My biggest concern is quantity, quality and standardising the charge points. At the moment you pull up at the pump, grab the green nozzle or the black nozzle and you’re good to go. I’m concerned that there seem to be a bewildering number of different charge points that may, or may not work with your EV of choice. Perhaps someone better informed will enlighten me.

    As far as classics go, well, given that the Scottish Government’s upcoming ULEZ areas will ban them from 1st January 2021, in fact they ban all pre Euro 6 diesels and pre Euro 4 petrol engine vehicles, I think we all know where this is going to end. From the New Year, I can no longer take my daily drive in to Central Glasgow, not that I would anyway.

    Anyone want to buy a Dorchester Red Rover 75?????

  7. Will it really happen? Maybe but look beyond the headline! It does not necessarily mean the end of ICE . What about synthetic fuels? What about well to well whole life pollution? Electric cars are not that clean when you take production till destruction Hybrids will come big time I’m sure
    Meanwhile we are stuck as a nation with awful government whoever we elect

    • Hear Hear!
      We are saddled with Governments that listen to “special advisers”, irrespective of which way you vote change is coming.

      We do need to reduce emissions of noxious gases but going down the electric route only shifts those emissions elsewhere.

      It’s basic physics (FFS!) Energy IN = Energy OUT (with losses and waste products: heat, CO, CO2, NOx etc)
      Somewhere along the line the waste is still being produced, but with electric it won’t be “sh!tting on your own doorstep” but more likely on a doorstep owned or rented by somebody less well off than yourself.

      At least you can sleep soundly, central heating turned off, keeping warm basking in the glow of your own self-righteousness…

  8. The view that e-vehicles will solve the problems of the world have not been thought out fully. What happens when all the e-vehicles are on line and their batteries are being charged? There is not enough capacity in any electrical grid to achieve this as nuke plants in some countries have been de-licensed. So in the effort to ban hydrocarbons how is this achieved? By eliminating internal combustion engines? Damn short sighted thinking because it takes energy – electrical energy to charge e-vehicle batteries and how does that happen? By spinning dynamos powered by gas or if the power plant is ancient it runs on oil. So either way what is achieved? And where is the infrastructure for e-vehicles to charge all the mandated new fleets of battery powered vehicles? It doesn’t exist presently but when it is built out there will be an x factor which is largely unknown now. Surely the demand will exceed the supply of availability to charge everything and provide power to homes and commercial entities. And if the future of internal combustion vehicles will be made redundant/illegal, how will it be to take a long distance trip when you are out of range and must lay over for 4 hours or more to charge up? All shortsighted imho.

  9. How is transporting goods in e-trucks going to work out? The driving range is limited even if they have a tandem trailer with batteries only. The cost of this conversion will be passed on to the consumer. No free lunch!

  10. I’m intrigued as to how salesman and Regional managers who might regularly cover 3-400 miles a day are going to operate. I guess our business habits will change so they won’t do it – more zooming!
    As a seventy plus petrol head this is the worst news possible. An electric car is a contradiction of terms. A car has always needed to be driven and the best period for proper driving was the 30’s (which is why one of my cars is from that era). One still needed a decent skill in the 50’s and 60’s. The 70’s was the last of the ‘un-technical’ (one can’t get much simpler than a Cortina). By the 80’s it was going ‘tits-up’ and now the things are so sophisticated a baboon (with a couple of lessons) could drive a Range Rover. Modern man argues that they are safer because we have less accidents. That is of course totally down to primary and secondary safety of a modern car whilst the drivers skill needed is minimal (Baboonal?).
    Electric cars are the final nail in the coffin. Equivalent (I imagine) to having sex with a blow up doll versus making love to a woman.
    So it’s all gone to hell in a handcart and the best thing for the world is to ban all motor cars of any type. Insist on walking or cycling – or horse riding for emergency services. (The poo can be collected and used for mending the potholes – it would work as well as what they use now).
    I’m going to build a big glass case at the end of my drive and stick the 1950 MG in it – as very soon I won’t be allowed to drive it for sure and I want my village to have at least one memorial of the great motor years.
    The world’s buggered so I give up. I’ll while away my last days ploughing through my 2,000 or so car books.
    Don’t try and cheer me up – it’s buggered I tell you!!!
    I’m depressed now!
    Really depressed.
    And as for the environment – millions of years ago the world went through massive temprararure changes – the ice age and do on. That was down to the very early Cortina was it?
    Bah, humbug!

    • And there’s the rub! If you look at the last 20 years the cynic in you might see a chain of events that leads to where we are now. A conspiracy theorist may take the Financial Global Meltdown (large number of pubs closing as a result), Covid pandemic (Even more pubs and social centres closing down) to indicate that governments are closing in on and closing down locations where dissent and rebellion might gain momentum. There is part of me that honestly believes that there is an agenda that is yet to be revealed, we (the masses) have enjoyed freedom since the end of the second world war that our forebears would have never dreamt of.

      Apologies for a non-car related rant……

    • Most of those regional managers and salesmen were replaced by websites over 20 years ago. Company car drivers these days are accountants and middle managers who receive them as a perk and rather than drive thousands of miles a year in them clutter up the rail network tapping laptops and talking loudly into mobile phones.

  11. I agree with all of R’s points . There is no sign of the generation capacity being equal to the demands made on it if motor usuage continues at present levels . Nor is there any realsitic sign that the recharging infrastructure will be in place realsitically to allow anything more than local usage of EV

  12. A combination of drop-in fuels (such as Bio-Butanol, etc) and hybrids would probably be a better more practical interim solution over a longer period (with support for classic car owners – including those who opt to modify their cars for conservation reasons rather than performance, etc) instead of governments pushing everyone towards electrification, just to meet some ill-defined and likely unrealistic targets that are increasingly being brought forward despite not being properly thought out.

    Even beyond the limitations of EVs, ill-equipped recharging / electric infrastructure (e.g. no post-war UK equivalent of the Messmer Plan to support such grandiose plans down the line) and the politicized as well as potentially catastrophic nature of governments around the world coercing people down towards just one single technological trajectory instead of hedging their bets on a number of other alternatives – just to meet those unrealistic targets. The question needs to be asked how well protected are EVs and the wider electrical infrastructure in the event both are suddenly taken out via hacking, EMP, solar flare or other means to prevent nations suddenly finding themselves thrown back to the 1800s whilst having to support a much larger population?

  13. Has the government defined what it means by “hybrid” yet? A lot of new cars coming to market now (including most of the 2020 JLR range) are so-called “mild” hybrids which, as we know, can’t be driven on electricity alone, it’s just an efficiency play at lower speeds. If those are exempted from the 2030 ban then this might not be quite as drastic as it first appears. I considered buying the “plug in” hybrid version of my car, but it was £10k more expensive with a much smaller boot due to batteries. My round-trip commute is 110miles and electric-only range is 40miles so there didn’t seem to be much point. Next time around I will consider going electric.

    • We do need a defintion of what configuration of IC and electric drive constitutes a hybrid, such as a minimum % of electrical power relative to IC power.
      if I fit a token of a 1/10 hp electric motor inside the hub of one of the roadwheels and drive the motor from the 12V battery, does that pass the Govt definition of a hybrid?
      A token gesture might be a redesign of the Alternator into a Motor Generator, as a motor generator the unit could either charge the electrical system or add torque to the engine.

  14. So are BMW and JLR going to get compensated since it must affect their investment/development plans for the Hams Hall and i54 engine plants? What effect on the economy will be the possibly hastened decline of Caterpillar, Cummins and JCB (major Tory donor….) engine plants?

    Are manufacturers being pushed into volume lithium battery technology since there is less time to develop better alternatives?

    National Grid won’t be ready in time – already green energy suppliers are having problems getting connected and I can’t see Tories accepting lots of new pylons given how they hate the sight of wind generators and look what an expensive disaster they have made of new nuclear.

    • You are missing the point. This applies to cars and light vans. Heavy commercial vehicles and plant are not effected (yet!), so your pedictions of doom for Caterpillar, JCB and Cummins are misplaced.

  15. People need to calm down here.

    In ten years time we will see a ban on the sale of new “pure” and “mild hybrid” petrol and diesel cars not the ban on the use of petrol and diesel cars. Not only that, but “Super Hybrids” hybrids that are capable of driving 100km or more will still be on sale. We also have new technologies coming as was showcased by the recent F1 announcement to switch to carbon neutral synthetic fuels.

    Yes we will see more Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) which people will charge at home, on the street, at the supermarket, restaurant, gym etc, plugging in just like you plug in your mobile phone, when and where you get the opportunity. All this talk about “Government needs to build the charging structure” is rubbish, the Government does not need to do that, just as it does not need build a filling station, people will do it because they can make good money selling electricity to EV owners.

    But for those who need to go far often and or use ICE vehicles along with things like motorbikes, light aircraft etc there will have be opportunity to use synthetic fuel, Bosch for example have a programme which utilises off peak renewable electricity and combines it with Co2 captured from the atmosphere to synthesize hydrocarbon to make a particulate and sulfur free diesel and petrol substitute.

    That is the good news, the bad news is that laws of nature mean that this is only ever going to be around 20 to 25% energy efficient to make, so the energy input is 4 to 5 times higher and so the cost compare with charging off peek at home. The double whammy is that a super efficient ICE engine will yield about 60% efficiency at the crank whereas a BEV will (including charging losses) is able to yield 80%. However because we already have production facilities (and very good ones) for ICE powertrains and a distribution infrastructure, synthetic fuels will happen instead of hydrogen fuel cells vehicles, as they only succeed to combine the need of a new infrastructure like BEVs with the energy manufacturing and utilisation inefficiencies of ICE.

    So the BEV is going to be the choice for most motorists, but us Petrol Heads can look forward to a world of clean carbon free petrol, but at a price.

  16. With our resignation from the strong Imperialistic influence of Eu Brussels, I had two thoughts for the UK self-determined future, 1) HS2, the Brussels aspiration for a Trans European high speed rail network would be cancelled. 2) The deadline year for the IC engine would be forgotten. Seems I am wrong on both counts

    • Your dreams are shattered because, despite being an independent nation once more, we are still shackled in chains to the EU. Did you honestly think that they would let us go so easily?
      The shower of sh!tes that are our “ELECTED” representatives in Westminster are still determined to tug their respective forelocks whilst repeating “yes sir no sir” to the “UNELECTED” mandarins of Brussels HQ

  17. From the newspaper today there are two dates proposed for E-day. 2030 for non-hybrid IC cars, 2035 for hybrid cars, E-day proposals for HGVs etc are a separate issue

  18. From the Govt announcement we read hints of the definition of a hybrid as ” cars and vans that can drive a significant distance with no carbon coming out of the tailpipe ” We instinctively assume electricity as the motive power, but what is the car travelled not on electricity but by stored compressed air emitting zero carbon, or by hydrogen gas combustion, again zero carbon from the tailpipe? What is a significant distance for the vehicle to travel while “emitting zero carbon from the tailpipe”?

  19. To those who are crying in their beer over not being able to enjoy driving without having an ICE engine at their beck and call, I recall two of my more enjoyable recent drives:
    1) Trying hard with a prototype FWD electric car over Carter Bar. That was fun – especially watching my range increase as I came down the English side! Conserving range is rather like trying to conserve momentum in an underpowered ICE-engined vehicle (which many of us drive at least occasionally due to force of circumstances)
    2) Trying an RWD electric Fiesta with torque vectoring (feels like incipient oversteer) over the hill route at Millbrook testing ground. The best compact sporting car I have driven since a rumbunctious tuned Viva GT.
    As for having enough electricity – it will be a challenge, but as much one of getting the power to where it is needed as generating it in the first place. All kinds of interesting new business models are in rapid development.

  20. Very interesting set of comments on Keith Adams’ masterly piece. Generally I think you have forgotten a lot of important factors.

    For instance;

    While we know the world is heating up, have we given up investigating whether this is a natural cyclical thing, or whether it has been triggered and/or accelerated by man;

    Nobody is counting the relative or actual ‘carbon’ cost of building and running electric and ICE vehicles;

    The fanatical green lobby often talks total rubbish and concentrates upon car ownership as if that is the only factor which is changing the world, where is there any true global info?

    There is no money/credit available in the UK to finance anything and the witches brew of Pandemic and Brexit will stifle any attempts to make anything better;

    Why are we suddenly assuming the politicians have any practical idea about anything beyond winning elections, e.g., how can £4b for defence make any real difference to anything?

    Come 2030, a huge slice of the UK electorate will still be running ‘smokers’ with a life running through 2050 – any concerted attempt to exclude them from the roads such as by punitive fuel pricing will result in revolting voters;

    All these silly announcements we are getting this week are simply a series of smokescreens laid by Bojo and pals to distract us from asking searching questions about the real problems of the day – the pathetic Pandemic handling, the death-wish to dive out of the EU without any agreements, and which nation(s) will rule the UK in future in place of the EU;

    Little England rules, OK?

  21. Keith, let me challenge two basic premises that I see laid out in your fifth paragraph.
    I will start with the premise “…we’re addicted to fossil-fuels…” that, to me, clearly implying that CO2 from the burning of fossil-fuels is the primary cause of global warming/climate change. The position, of course, that the UN’s IPCC has very successfully promulgated as “settled science” and has been accepted by the mainstream media with little of the skepticism and questioning that should be cornerstones of good objective journalism. Essentially it is now the only viewpoint being routinely fed to us, whether we are adults or schoolchildren. It has become conventional wisdom and one is deemed morally deficient should one have the temerity to dissent.
    But there are climate scientists and those in related disciplines who do emphatically dissent. With evidence they refute the IPCC hypothesis, and make the case that while anthropogenic CO2 has an effect on global warming, it is in fact an insignificant one. Academics of repute such as Tim Ball, Judith Curry, Rupert Darwall, Richard Lindzen, Ross McKitrick, Patrick Moore (a co-founder of Greenpeace), Roger Pielke, Ian Plimer and Willi Soon. But one may not heard of them because, predictably, they are given scant attention in the media. And when they, or others, do present evidence, via the press or the internet, they are routinely shouted down, often with ad-hominem slurs or insults — “denier”, “flat-earther”, etc. (“Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness.” — George Orwell.) So if one is brave and open-minded enough to want to consider the evidence these people present, one has to dig a little. There are papers, articles and books by them but You Tube is a good place to start.
    Unfortunately the issue of climate change has, with messianic intent, been turned into left-versus-right issue. It should not be. It is a scientific issue and until that is recognised we will continue to go down a path of potentially disastrous economic consequences, particularly for developing countries.
    Now, to the other premise. After stating that “Ultimately change is accelerating…” (something few will dispute — climate change is a fact), you go on to say that “… if it goes on unabated we’re going to be suffering the effects of an environmental emergency the likes of which we’ve never known before within 50 years possibly sooner…” In saying 50 years you are, in fact, being optimistic relative to dire predictions of those who have seized upon, and distorted, an IPCC supposition, and are determined to convince us that an irreversible apocalypse is only 11 or 12 years away. Suppose one rejects the position of the scientists that I have cited above and one firmly believes that anthropogenic CO2 is the primary cause of global warming. And suppose that the currently puny efforts to generate enough energy to replace fossil-fuel derived energy – wind turbines and solar panels – will not, as evidence suggests, achieve abatement of continuing climate change. Is an apocalyptic doomsday the certain result? Such thinking ignores many positives, primarily mankind’s resilience, demonstrated through millennia, by adaptation. That approach has increasing momentum – two recently published books: “False Alarm – How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts The Poor, And Fails To Fix The Planet” by Danish environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg, and “Apocalypse Never” by American environmentalist Michael Shellenberger, are worth reading before succumbing to the devastating fears promoted by the greens, the likes of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg and, most regrettably, some of the British Royals.
    So is the demise of the ICE inevitable? Maybe long term when we have energy sources – probably nuclear – that can realistically provide enough electricity to power the world-wide fleet of electric vehicles. But shorter term we can – we should – educate ourselves, not just accept what mainstream media feeds us, and make it clear to politicians that decisions re climate change, such as banning the ICE should be based on solid scientific evidence coupled with common sense, not driven by ideology. Should not the car-enthusiast community be at the forefront in this?

    — 30 —

    • Ten years in the future, I think charging points will be as common as petrol pumps, with filling stations having several charging points, charging times will be nearly as quick as filling up, and electric cars will probably have the same range as a small petrol car now. Technology is advancing all the time, with the range and practicality of electric cars improving every year, and things should be much better by 2030.
      One downside, though, as petrol and diesel cars die out, this means less work for garages and less demand for oil. A car service will no longer require air filters, oil and filter changes and fuel filters, while repairs to engines and replacing exhausts will become a thing of the past, leading to less work for technicians and fitters, while a drop in the demand for oil will see thousands of job losses in the oil industry.

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