2035 petrol and diesel car ban: what you need to know

Following the recent Government announcement, there has been a lot of confusion about the latest changes to new car sales for 2030 and 2035.

Previously, sales of new cars and vans ONLY powered by an internal combustion engine were not allowed from 2030 onwards, while plug-in hybrids would have been allowed to continue.

Between 2030 and 2035, the Government had said that all new cars and vans could only be sold if they had the capability to drive “a significant distance” with zero emissions, meaning plug-in hybrids can continue to be sold. The Department for Transport had never defined what that “significant distance” was.

Now however, that ruling has gone, and the next hard date for EVs, in 2035 remains. From then on, car manufacturers will only be able to sell pure electric vehicles from new. So, working backwards from that now single 2035 dates, what happens before then? 

In reality, many are already getting ahead of the curve with the likes of Vauxhall, Citroen and Peugeot promising to only offer fully electric models by 2028.

But don’t think that petrol and diesel filling stations are suddenly going to disappear. While demand will obviously slowly drift towards EV charging stations, with the average lifespan of a new car in the UK being just over 13 years, there will be plenty of internal-combustion engined cars and vans on the roads for some time after 2035.

How will this affect the car manufacturers? While the decision appears to have been made for political reason, the reality is that some such as Toyota have already come out and welcomed the latest change.

And, while some EV evangelists are in uproar for the dropping of the 2030 switch to PHEVs, they were often the same people who said PHEVs were a waste of time and effort preferring people to make the straight switch to full EVs.

There’s another issue that might make this change academic too. From 2024, at least 22 per cent of the new car sales that every manufacturer sells in the UK must be an EV, a figure which steadily rises to 80 per cent in 2030. This legislation, called the ZEV Mandate, will remain unchanged from before.

If not, then there are some stringent penalties and a credit-based system will enable manufacturers to trade between each other if they are likely to miss their targets – something that will be rather profitable for full EV brands such as Polestar and Tesla.

So with that in mind, the reality is that for all the bluster, the latest announcement could be largely irrelevant anyway.