UK government delays proposed ban on new petrol and diesel car sales to 2035

The UK has walked back on its ambitious timeline to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars without hybrid technology from showrooms by 2030, giving the vehicles a five-year stay of execution.

The UK has become the first country to delay its controversial ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars without hybrid technology, pushing back the aggressive emissions reduction policy's start date by five years to 2035.

The ban was previously planned to see only new hybrid and electric cars be legal for sale in the country from 2030, before a switch to electric vehicles only from 2035.

Rumours about a delay to proposed ban first circulated in July 2023, but were quickly shot down by British prime minister Rishi Sunak.

However, less than two months later, Mr Sunak has announced the government will not ban solely petrol- and diesel-powered new cars by 2030, now extending its deadline to 2035 – and moving the UK in line with Europe, which plans to mandate zero tailpipe emissions for new vehicles from 2035.

"We’re going to ease the transition to electric vehicles. You’ll still be able to buy petrol and diesel cars and vans until 2035,” Mr Sunak said, as reported by Automotive News Europe.

"Even after that, you’ll still be able to buy and sell them secondhand.

"At least for now it should be you, the consumer, who makes that choice, not the government forcing you to do it."

The UK Government is yet to announce specific legislation regarding hybrid vehicles, and whether they will be given a stay of execution past 2035 or be subjected to the same ban as petrol-only and diesel-only cars.

The latest announcement suggests the sale of new hybrid vehicles will be banned at the same time as solely petrol and diesel vehicles, rather than five years earlier.

The 2035 deadline now matches that of the European Union – of which the UK was once a part of – as cars sold on the continent will be required to reduce their tailpipe emissions by 100 per cent by the middle of the next decade.

While the EU will allow traditional petrol and diesel engines to use synthetic fuels in order to meet the stringent emission targets, it is not clear whether the same rules will apply in the UK.

According to Automotive News Europe, Prime Minister Sunak's announcement has been met with criticism from car-makers – such as Kia, Ford and Volkswagen – who believe the changed date is unfair to companies who have built their future model plans around the 2030 target.

Despite the delayed ban, the UK remains committed – and legally binded – to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, which Mr Sunak claims is possible because the UK is "so far ahead of every other country in the world."

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