However, the announcement has put the Government on a collision course with the UK motor industry, which accused it of “moving the goalposts for consumers and industry on a critical issue” and called for the £3,500 Plug-In Car Grant, which is scheduled to be removed at the end of March, to be extended as the nation transitions to an electric and hydrogen motor vehicle future.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the expected move – although it is the first time that plug-in hybrid models have been mentioned in the ban – as he launched the next United Nations Climate Conference (COP26), which is due to take place from November 9th-19th in Glasgow.
Subject to consultation, Mr Johnson said the Government planned to bring forward an end to the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans to 2035, or earlier if a faster transition was feasible, as well as including plug-in hybrids for the first time.
Mr Johnson said that the measure “demonstrated the UK’s urgent action to reduce emissions” and added that the “Government will continue to work with all sectors of industry to accelerate the rollout of zero emission vehicles”.
But Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: “Manufacturers are fully invested in a zero emissions future, with some 60 plug-in models now on the market and 34 more coming in 2020. However, with current demand for this still expensive technology still just a fraction of sales, it’s clear that accelerating an already very challenging ambition will take more than industry investment.”
Mr Hawes continued: “This is about market transformation, yet we still don’t have clarity on the future of the Plug-In Car Grant – the most significant driver of electric vehicle uptake – which ends in just 60 days’ time, while the UK’s charging network is still woefully inadequate.”