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New petrol and diesel cars to be banned from 2030

The end of non-electrified car sales brought forward five years – everything you need to know about what it means for you and how to prepare...

Only electrified cars will be sold in UK from 2035

The Government is bringing forward the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel-fuelled cars to 2030 – five years earlier than previously planned.

The news comes alongside the launch of a £4bn investment plan into green energy that the Government hopes will create 250,000 new jobs.

The ban on the sale of petrol and diesel-fuelled models (including hybrids and plug-in hybrids) was initially due to come into force in 2040 and had already been moved to 2035, with the Government saying this was necessary for the UK to achieve its target of emitting virtually zero carbon by 2050.

However, while the ban has been brought forward again, hybrid cars that can operate for "substantial" distances on pure electric power will get a stay of execution until 2035. What constitutes substantial has yet to be defined.

The new rules will also apply to vans, although there is no detail yet about which types of hybrid vans will be exempt from the 2030 ban.

Pulling the date forward another five years will set a big challenge to car makers to provide enough electric cars to meet demand, with battery shortages currently delaying supply of some vehicles, such as the former What Car? Car of the Year Award-winning Kia e-Niro, and to infrastructure providers to deliver enough charging points when sales ramp up in 10 years' time.

The Government has already funded one battery development centre; the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) in Coventry is set to be operational next year.  It has also pledged to spend nearly £500 million over the next four years on the development of mass-scale production of EV batteries. 

Audi E-tron at Ionity electric car charging station

In a bid to boost the UK's charging infrastructure, in January this year the Government doubled its electric vehicle (EV) charger fund allocation to £10 million in an effort to encourage EV uptake in urban areas. It also suggested that some of the money could be used to develop a publicly accessible charger monitoring platform, which could be integrated into sat-nav systems and route planners. 

In the latest announcement, £1.3 billion of funding was promised to accelerate the rollout of charge points for EVs in homes, streets and motorways across England. 

Although no details have been provided yet, there is also a pledge to provide £582 million in grants for those buying zero or ultra-low emission vehicles to make them cheaper and encourage more people to switch to them. 

The decision to bring forward the ban will put the UK ahead of France, which intends to ban non-electric cars from 2040, and on a par with Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands, all of which have already announced a 2030 ban. 

What does this mean for me?

The clock is clearly ticking for petrol and diesel cars, with just 10 years left for buyers to purchase these vehicles new.

In the short term, you still shouldn't expect much to change, because most of us will change cars at least once more in that time. However, as we get closer to the ban, expect to see larger discounts on any remaining new petrol and diesel cars and vans, as well as more incentives designed to get you into an electric model instead.

As is already happening today, you'll see more and more fully electric models go on sale, to make sure that buyers have as much choice as possible and get used to the idea of going electric.

Mini Electric vs Peugeot e-208 vs Renault Zoe front static

Also expect to see continuing investment in the UK's charging infrastructure, with more charging points popping up in your local area.

How many electric cars are sold today?

So far in 2020, 75,946 pure electric cars have been sold in the UK. That's 169% more than January to October 2019, in spite of the fact that showrooms were closed for months earlier this year. However, they still account for only 5.5% of the overall number of new cars registered in 2020. 

When it comes to plug-in hybrid cars, sales of those were up by almost 92% for the first 10 months of 2020, with 50,052 sold. The increased demand for these models is in line with the trend towards quicker adoption of greener cars that has happened since the coronavirus pandemic

How will this affect used cars?

The banning of petrol and diesel cars by 2030, and plug-in hybrids by 2035, probably won't affect values in the short term. However, the move is a part of a larger air quality strategy from the Government, which elsewhere expresses support for the levying of fees on older vehicles, especially diesels.

Peugeot dealer

It's likely that, in the longer term, this will have an effect on the values of older diesel cars as more towns and cities introduce such charges, in the vein of London's T-Charge and Ultra Low-Emissions Zone (ULEZ). Diesel car values are slipping relative to their petrol counterparts in some areas of the market, and this trend is likely to continue as more and more owners realise that choosing a diesel car might lead to significant extra charges if they use them to commute.

Buying a petrol-powered car instead would seem to be the most logical option. But they're vastly fewer in number in some classes, most notably executive saloons and large SUVs.

Our advice, therefore, is to sit down and do the sums, taking into account your mileage, the cost of the fuel, the cost of the charges you might face, and the risk of diesel models dropping farther in value.

For the highest-mileage drivers, diesel will still make the most sense. But if you don't do enough miles to justify the extra cost those new charges might add to your motoring outgoings, putting your money into a petrol or electrified car might soon become a safer bet.

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Read more: The best and worst electric cars >>

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