Mounting political pressure could bring the ban forwards as manufacturers favour electrification

The impending ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 is due to create a seismic shift in the UK motor industry, but long before its official deadline, the pressure is already on to bring it forward. A group of centrist Tory MPs is looking to pressure the government to move the date to 2030. At the same time, more and more car makers are ditching pure ICE model lines.

As part of the UK government's net zero by 2050 commitment, it will ban the sale of new fossil fuel-powered cars by 2035 – that much is a certainty. Since the commitment was signed into policy, the wrangling has been about whether that ban will be brought forward, and what vehicles would be covered. The initial idea was to ban any non-electrified car, so hybrids and PHEVs producing less than 75g/km would get a pass.

In February this year Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said that it could happen by 2032 and now covers all emissions producing cars. This would mean only EVs and FCEVs could be sold new. Other bodies have pushed for the ban to be brought in even sooner, such as the Committee on Climate Change which has long seen 2030 as an achievable date.

This has now gained some potentially influential political backing with the caucus of centrist Conservatives – also known as the One Nation Group – calling on ministers to speed up the plans. The group of around 100 moderate Tory MPs was originally formed under Theresa May and spearheaded by Amber Rudd, to counter a hard-line Brexit and drag the party away from its urge towards the hard right.

One Nation Group has since been relaunched, albeit with many of its key figures now no longer Conservatives or even MPs, and among its aims is expediting the green agenda. According to the Guardian, One Nation Group has compiled a 25-point plan, alongside members of the Green Party, to kickstart a greener economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

As well as bringing forward the ban on new ICE car sales to 2030, the report calls for mandated EV chargers on new homes as well as more investment in private EV supply chains. Other low carbon transport projects, like cycling, are put forward and a six-fold increase in the planting of new trees per year is highlighted as a way of pulling more than 10 million tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere each year.

Jerome Mayhew MP, Conservative MP for Broadland and lead author of the report, said: “We have the opportunity to reboot our economy and create jobs, by accelerating the rollout of clean and resilient infrastructure and stimulating low-carbon industries across the UK. A clear majority of the public supports this agenda too.”

Car brands increasingly turning their backs on pure ICE

Whilst only small volume brands like SMART have so far turned their backs on ICE entirely, there's an increasing movement towards electrification. Volvo has announced that it is removing all diesel versions of the XC40 from sale in the UK as it slowly ditches the fuel for electrified petrol variants – and the XC40 Recharge EV. Whilst other Volvo diesels remain on sale, all now come with mild hybrid technology and it's likely that the brand will phase these out in the coming couple of years.

Toyota is another brand that is slowly phasing out pure-ICE models by bolstering its focus on hybrid power. In the UK, two thirds of its new passenger cars sold are now hybrids and by 2025 it plans to have 40 updated models including said hybrids, PHEVs, EVs and FCEVs. However, even though Toyota is pretty staunch in its hybrid focus, it will need to provide alternatives by 2030 if it isn't to fall foul of the ICE ban.

Whilst we could list most mainstream brands and identify their plans to turn their backs on pure ICE, the fact is that almost all volume manufacturers have at least a five-year electrification plan in place. You can bet that come 2025 the following five year plans will be for the phasing out of fossil fuel-powered cars, in Europe at least, by 2030.

Discover EV's take

Whilst the One Nation Group might have already shown that it didn't have the required clout to steer the government away from what looks to be a pretty hard Brexit, it's far more likely to wield influence on green matters. This government has shown that it is receptive to moving transport away from carbon, so the lobbying from centrist Tories and NGOs like the Committee on Climate Change could see results. Of course, if the UK and other nations move to ban new ICE cars by 2030, manufacturers won't have any choice but to move in that direction too. That many already are shows that they're already hedging their bets.


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