UK petrol and diesel bans

Sale of petrol and diesel cars banned from 2040 & they'll be barred from London's roads too - latest details

Dominic Tobin
Jul 26, 2017
Mike Cherim/

Petrol and diesel cars will be banned from sale in 2040 as part of government plans to improve air quality.

New cars and vans with conventional engines will no longer be sold but drivers won’t have to scrap their existing vehicles immediately. Some hybrid cars will also escape the axe and remain on sale.

The policy comes on top of plans to impose surcharges on diesel drivers, including daily charges to drive in London.

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Michael Gove, the environment secretary, has announced the latest version of the government’s air quality strategy, laying out measures to reduce pollution and boost sales of electric cars.

The strategy may also result in diesel cars being banned from driving in some city centres or on specific roads. But drivers in some of the worst-polluted areas may benefit from a limited diesel scrappage scheme.

Full details of the ban are not yet known. Gove has simply said: "The government will end the sale of all new conventional petrol and diesel cars by 2040."

This may mean that any hybrid car - even one with a tiny battery and motor - could remain on sale. It's more likely that only plug-in hybrid cars that can drive for several miles on electric power alone, thanks to a large battery that can be recharged from a socket, will be able to remain on sale. That would mean the end of cars such as the standard Toyota Prius.

In addition to the national ban, London’s Mayor has published proposals for a zero-emission zone in central London by 2025, which would only be open to electric and hydrogen cars. This may include some plug-in hybrid cars that can run on electric power alone.

This ban on petrol and diesel cars is planned to expand across the capital by 2050. Other authorities, tackling highly-polluted roads, will be able to take similar measures under the strategy.

However, the measures may not seem as drastic in 23 years’ time, when electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles, are expected to make up the majority of new car sales.

Volvo has said every new car that it launches from 2019 will be electric or hybrid. In the same year, Mini will launch an electric version of its hatchback. Volkswagen says that it plans to sell 1m electric cars a year by 2025.

Less clear, is the likelihood of having enough charging points and generating capacity to support a nation reliant on electric cars: the air quality strategy has allocated £100m for charging points, but a national network may require further government funding.

The ban on petrol and diesel cars brings Britain in line with France, which also announced a similar policy - also from 2040.

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Petrol and diesel ban - all your questions answered

Which petrol and diesel cars will be banned?

New cars and vans with a petrol or diesel engine and no hybrid technology (usually a battery and electric motor that recover energy under braking and help boost the power of the engine) will be withdrawn from sale in 2040.

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 hybrids in the near-future, and almost every car company has plans for a vast expansion of its hybrid and electric models.

The most dramatic change on January 1, 2040 may be that a handful of outdated cars are no longer available when new.

Some hybrids may also be banned, but the indications so far are that most will be exempt.


Petrol and diesel ban: should I sell my car?

At the moment, there’s no need to do anything. There are no plans that would force owners to scrap their petrol or diesel cars, even if you won’t be able to buy a new one. And that won’t happen for another 23 years. The chances are you’ll sell your current car anyway, long before then.

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Petrol and diesel ban: should I buy an electric car?

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

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.

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