New petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans could be banned from 2030

Ban on sale of new petrols, diesels and hybrids could be just 10 years away - everything you need to know about how it will affect you and how to prepare...

Only electrified cars will be sold in UK from 2040

UK car buyers will be able to buy only new electric cars from 2030, according to a new report, with the sale of petrol, diesel, hybrid and plug-in hybrid models banned.

The report in the Guardian newspaper stated that the Government is planning to bring forward the ban on combustion-engined vehicles by five years from the present date of 2035. It is believed that prime minister Boris Johnson will announce the new date as part of a post-coronavirus economic recovery plan for the UK in the autumn. 

The latest news brings forward a previously declared date of 2040 for the ban on solely fossil-fuelled vehicles and hybrid and plug-in hybrid models, which are powered by a combination of a petrol or diesel engine and electricity and can travel for up to 78 miles on electric power alone. 

Pulling the date forward 10 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.

Audi E-tron 2019 UK charging socket

The Government initially brought the date forward to 2035 because it said 2040 would be too late if the UK wants to achieve its target of emitting virtually zero carbon by 2050. 

In a bid to boost the UK's charging infrastructure, in January this year the Government doubled its 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. 

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 ticking for petrol, diesel and hybrid cars, possibly with just 10 years left for buyers to purchase these vehicles new. In the short term, don'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, diesel and hybrid cars and vans, as well as more incentives designed to get you into a fully 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.

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

Ford Kuga charging

How many electric cars are sold today?

So far in 2020, 44,708 pure electric cars have been sold in the UK. That's 157% more than January to August 2019, in spite of the fact that showrooms were closed for months earlier this year. However, they still account for only 4.9% of the overall number of new cars registered in 2020. 

When it comes to plug-in hybrid vehicles, sales of those cars were up by almost 685 for the first eight months of 2020, with 29,877 sold. The increased demand for these models is in line with the trend towards quicker adoption of greener cars that has happened since the Covid-19 pandemic. 

How will this affect used cars?

The banning of petrol, diesel and hybrid cars by 2030 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.

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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The best and worst electric cars

Does the idea of a ban on new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars have you thinking about going electric? Then read on, as we count down the top 10 fully electric cars currently on sale – and reveal the model to avoid.

10. Seat Mii Electric

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Seat Mii Electric 2020 front tracking

If you're looking for a small electric car to primarily use in the city, the Mii Electric should definitely be on your shortlist. It might not have the battery capacity – and therefore range – of some alternatives, but that means its price is lower, and the 111 miles that it managed in our Real Range test is still enough for many people's needs.

Read our full Seat Mii Electric review >>


9. Polestar 2

Save money on a new Polestar 2 with What Car? >>

Polestar 2 front cornering - 2020 car

The second model from Volvo spinoff Polestar (hence the name) is a thrillingly quick electric executive car with an exquisite interior and the ability to go a long way between charges. Just bear in mind that the similarly-priced Telsa Model 3 Performance is better to drive, more practical and has access to a better charging network.

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