UK 2030 petrol car ban and diesel car ban

Sale of new diesel and petrol cars banned from 2030. Full details, including a partial hybrid ban & zero emission zones

Dominic Tobin
Sep 24, 2021

New petrol and diesel cars will be banned from sale in 2030 along with many hybrids under a government plan to cut air pollution and boost Britain's electric car industry. Originally, the ban was set for 2040, but that was deemed too far in the future to meet the UK’s strict emissions targets.

So in less than a decade, all new cars sold will be electrified. Hybrid cars that can manage a “significant” distance on electric power will be allowed to remain on sale for a few more years after that, although it’s not clear exactly how far “significant” means.

But that doesn’t mean that your current car will immediately be banned from the road. Used cars can continue to be used, bought and sold after the 2030 ban comes into place. There’ll be a steady stream of used cars available after that time, as petrol and diesel cars can still be registered until the end of the decade.

What is the petrol and diesel car ban? Key details

  • Sale of new petrol, diesel and many hybrid cars banned from 2030
  • Second-hand petrol and diesel cars can still be driven, bought and sold 
  • New hybrid cars likely to need a 25 mile+ electric range to escape the ban
  • Government grant for new electric cars to continue until at least 2023
  • More charging points in new-build homes and lamp-posts for on-street charging

 

The ban brings  Britain in line with other major countries, including France, which has also pledged to ban petrol and diesel cars by 2040. India has set a target of 2030 and Norway is aiming for new cars to be exclusively zero-emission from 2025.

At the same time, cities are planning to introduce zero-emission zones, which are likely to be closed to vehicles that run solely on petrol or diesel. These moves mean that manufacturers will be forced to accelerate the development and production of cars to comply with future legislation.

Electric cars are likely to have a longer range between charges, to become more affordable and have the ability to be charged much faster; hydrogen cars, which can be refuelled as quickly as a petrol car may be commonplace, and hybrid cars should be able to travel further on electric power alone. By 2030, there's also a fair chance that some cars will be driving themselves.

Petrol and diesel car ban: which cars are affected?

New cars and vans powered only by a petrol or diesel engine and no hybrid technology will be withdrawn from sale in 2030.

But that's assuming that there are any of these cars still being produced. Volvo and Mercedes have said that all of their vehicles will be electrified in the near future, Audi will launch its last new petrol and diesel cars in 2026, and almost every car company has plans for a vast expansion of its hybrid and electric models.

The most dramatic change in 2030 may be that a handful of outdated cars are no longer available when new. But many buyers are heading to electric and hybrid cars anyway; the day after the 2030 ban was revealed, searches for electric cars on BuyaCar increased five-fold.

As well as fully electric- or hydrogen-powered cars, the government is expected to allow the continued sale of plug-in hybrid cars until 2035. Using a large battery, which can be recharged, along with a petrol or diesel engine, these vehicles can travel for several miles on a single charge. Once the batteries are exhausted, the engine takes over.

Allowing the sale of new hybrids should mean that there's no reduction in the range of cars that are available. There are already large hybrid SUVs such as the Range Rover PHEV and Volvo XC90 T8, as well as hybrid supercars. McLaren has announced that every car that it makes will be hybrid by 2025.

However, conventional hybrid cars with a smaller battery pack are unlikely to qualify, as their electric power is designed more as a power boost alongside the engine when accelerating. It'll mean that the standard Toyota Prius hybrid, as well as the Lexus RX450h, would not be eligible under the new rules.

Should I sell my car to beat the ban?

At the moment, there’s no need to do anything. There are no plans that would force owners to scrap their petrol, diesel or hybrid cars, even if you won’t be able to buy a new one. And that won’t happen for another 22 years. The chances are you’ll sell your current car anyway, long before then.

Even the more imminent issue of zero-emission zones are unlikely to pose a major obstacle to drivers for some years. Oxford plans to begin with a small, mainly pedestrianised area in the centre, which will expand slightly in 2025 before expanding across much of the city centre. Similarly, London's zero-emission zone is expected to cover a small part of the capital and is not expected to be city-wide until 2050.

Should I buy a new petrol or diesel car?

The government's plans shouldn't have any effect on your plans, given we're so far away from the date of the ban, so there's no reason why you shouldn't buy a petrol or diesel vehicle.

It's worth taking a few factors into consideration: buying a diesel car that was first registered before September 2015 could leave you vulnerable to forthcoming charges to drive through inner-city clean air zones and London's ultra-low emission zone, as these vehicles may not meet the latest emission regulations. Only those that do will be exempt from many charges.

There's also the issue of whether news of the ban, additional charges and zero-emission zones could lead to a lack of demand for diesel models in particular, and a reduction in their value. If you are planning to take out finance, then leasing, or a Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) plan will protect you against an unexpectedly high loss of value.

Should I buy an electric car?

It’s not necessary at the moment but as prices fall and batteries improve, electric vehicles are becoming viable alternatives to petrol and diesel cars. You might find yourself buying one on its merits long before the ban is introduced.

There are such a wide range of electric cars on sale now, from city cars like the Honda e and Fiat 500 to luxury MPVs like the Mercedes EQV. You can buy electric hatchbacks like the Volkswagen ID.3 and Peugeot e-208, while family SUVs like the Skoda Enyaq and Kia e-Niro are more than capable of competing with petrol-powered rivals. The Tesla Model 3 offers a futuristic interior and a range of around 350 miles, which is more than many petrol cars manage to a tank of fuel.

By 2040, you may also have the choice of buying a hydrogen car. At the moment, these are faster to fill up than electric cars are to charge and can travel several hundred miles on a single tank. Their cost and lack of filling stations make them an unrealistic option for now. Hydrogen may be better for lorries and large commercial vehicles.

Which hybrid cars will be banned?

Current indications suggest that only hybrid cars with a range of 25 miles or more could be sold new. This would almost certainly ban many common hybrids, such as the standard Toyota Prius, which have a petrol or diesel engine and also generate electricity from energy usually lost during braking. The electricity is used to run a motor that provides extra power when accelerating, saving fuel. These cars can rarely travel for more than two miles (and then only at slow speeds) on electric power alone.

Some plug-in hybrid cars using current technology would also be affected. With bigger batteries that can be charged up, most of these vehicles can go for at least 20 miles on battery power before their petrol or diesel engine is required. However, the minimum limit looks likely to be set at around 25 miles, so a few would be affected if the rules were in place now.

Even if the limit was set higher at 50 miles, there are already hybrids that would qualify, including the BMW i3, which is available with a small motorbike engine that charges the car's battery when it gets low. A new London taxi also has a range of over 60 miles.

 Petrol and diesel ban: What are the proposed 2032 plans?

Current indications suggest that only hybrid cars with a “significant” range could be sold new. This would almost certainly ban many common hybrids, such as the standard Toyota Prius, which have a petrol or diesel engine and also generate electricity from energy usually lost during braking. The electricity is used to run a motor that provides extra power when accelerating, saving fuel. These cars can rarely travel for more than two miles (and then only at slow speeds) on electric power alone.

 

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