The world has entered uncertain times, in a number of ways. Friction between Russia and other superpowers has seen the global availability of fuel and food decrease, while a growing climate emergency threatens the world’s population. World governments are continuing to act in order to reverse the damage done by greenhouse gas emissions – actions that, in the UK, make the year 2030 a key date in the automotive industry. But why, and how?
With the government attempting to achieve a net-zero society by 2050, as per milestones and directives established at COP26 in Glasgow, new incentives are being rolled out across industries. The automotive sector is a point of particular focus, with transportation contributing 24.4% of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
One of the most significant interventions the government has made with regard to its net-zero target relates to the sale of gas-guzzling vehicles in the UK; attempts to reduce emissive vehicles on the road by 2050 have seen 2030 become a pivotal year for the automotive industry, as the year in which the sale of new petrol-fuelled vehicles will be banned.
The Gas-Guzzler Ban
The two-phase plan would see new, entirely fossil-fuel-powered cars banned from sale in UK showrooms, with plug-in hybrid vehicles available for a further five years. From 2025, only electric vehicles (EVs) will be available for purchase from UK showrooms. The sale ban does not extend to second-hand vehicles, and existing owners of petrol- or diesel-powered cars will not have to act in any way.
Rather, the government hopes to initiate a national shift towards EVs well in advance of 2050, to slowly reduce the number of gas-guzzlers on the road and effectively limit transport’s significant contributions to emissions. The impact on the second-hand market could also be significant though, especially if demand for petrol vehicles increases due to relatively scarcity of newer models. With petrol prices rising ever higher, though, it is more likely that the move to EVs will be welcomed – even more than it has been at present.
The Rise of EVs
The 2030 petrol car ban has not only spurred development of more viable EVs by automobile manufacturers, but has also been made possible by existing EV technology. Where EVs were once an unsustainable choice for regular drivers, recent technological innovation has seen hybrid- and full-electric vehicles become more popular choices for new vehicle leases and even outright ownership. Key strides have been made with regard to battery capacity – and hence vehicle range – and torque, allowing newer EV designs to keep pace in higher-speed environments. Their improved overall viability for regular use, coupled with the decreased running costs relating to fuel and maintenance, have seen their uptake increase dramatically since the start of the 2010s; ownership of ultra-low emission vehicles, comprising predominantly full-electric vehicles, increased eightfold between 2015 and 2020.