2025 ban on ICE-only powered vehicles branded unfeasible
Calls to bring forwards the Government’s planned 2040 ban on conventional petrol and diesel-fuelled vehicles have been branded as highly unfeasible without expanded government support for EVs.
The comments come in response to a call from Sir Richard Branson – who funds a team in the Formula E motorsport league – to the BBC’s Newsbeat programme as he said the 2040 deadline should be brought forward to 2025, in line with the likes of Norway and the Netherlands.
“I honestly think that we’ve got to bring everything forward because there are concerns that we could actually have sea levels rising by over 100ft if we lose a big chunk of the Antarctic,” said Branson to the BBC.
“Therefore we’ve got to move the process of moving to clean energy quicker than most governments around the world are doing.”
His comments follow a recent joint inquiry held by four commons select committees into improving air quality, which said that the 2040 date – first announced in 2011 by the coalition government and reaffirmed in last year’s Air Quality Plan and Clean Growth Strategy – must be brought forward to help deal with an “air quality catastrophe”.
And late last year the Scottish Parliament outlined plans to phase out petrol and diesel cars by 2032.
Certainly Chargemaster think there’s no problem with a revised target. The firm’s chief executive David Martell has said that: “On the current trajectory, it is likely that virtually every car on UK roads will be electric by 2040.”
And Chargemaster has also responded to concerns over model choices and the charging infrastructure, pointing to the launch of more than 30 new electric models by 2020 while Martell has also said that the charging infrastructure to support these vehicles will keep pace with the electric car market itself.
Even concerns over the impact of mass EV take-up on grid demand could be unfounded if the UK turns to smart charging, according to a report by Aurora Energy Research, while developments in battery technology along with falling costs and the adoption of fast chargers and wireless charging technologies will also eliminate issues over range anxiety.
And among the fleet and leasing firms, ALD’s consultancy services manager Matt Dale thinks the target could be brought forwards if applied to new petrol and diesel cars – not LCVs or HGVs. In fact, Dale explains that the increase choice of available alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) models could mean that as early as the 2030s traditional internal combustion engines may be reduced to ‘special orders only’. Already, ALD says that in some cases demand for AFVs is outstripping supply.
Meanwhile Matt Dyer, managing director at LeasePlan UK, says the firm is already seeing the gradual transition among fleets to alternative powertrains – 51% of orders on its SalaryPlan salary sacrifice scheme are now for Ultra Low Emission Vehicles – and the firm is already working towards its ambition of all its employees driving electric cars by 2021 as well as encouraging its customers to make the switch. However, Dyer says the Government needs to continue creating new legislation to incentivise the uptake and delivery of critical infrastructure for EVs to gain the momentum needed to bring plans forward.
“This is key to ensure electric driving is positioned as a realistic option for every motorist,” he adds.
It’s a sentiment echoed by Ashley Barnett, head of consultancy at Lex Autolease, who says the company has seen a significant increase in uptake of ULEVs over the last two years and that the 2040 target should give sufficient time for fleets to make the shift but suggests that current infrastructure and product availability doesn’t give businesses a viable option for moving this date forward, even to 2030.
Meanwhile Close Brothers Motor Finance has said that despite record ULEV take-up in 2017, there are still major perception barriers to overcome.
Sean Kemple, director of sales, commented: “Consumers and dealers alike are still hesitant about making the switch. While dealers would like to see more of these types of vehicles on their forecourts, particularly as they have zero emissions, without improvements to the infrastructure to support the charge and the range, uptake is likely to remain low in the short term.
“For this to happen, the industry and dealers will need to be brought on this journey. As a result of low tax charges, the majority of electric cars on the roads are company cars, but dealers will need to get ready as these cars will likely start coming back into the second hand space in the next couple of years. To do this, dealers must be given support to embrace changes in both consumer buying behaviour and government policy, and ensure they have the right cars on their forecourts.”
And ACFO has also expressed its concerns over any targets and their impact on fleet operations. Chairman John Pryor commented on the 2040 date: “There is no legislation – it is only a plan – to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars and vans. And, as ACFO has consistently said over many years in relation to numerous matters, legislation should not run ahead of technology.”
Although the organisation is clear on the need to tackle poor air quality and the role that fleets have to play, Pryor added that fleets must be able to choose the best vehicles to operate based on long-established factors including whole-life costs and fitness-for-purpose. And he said that this means that developments in vehicle choices and battery technology along with specific van market considerations must be addressed along with the development of a universal vehicle recharging system with uniform pricing and a simple and straightforward payment regime.
Pryor added: “Over the years fleets have proven themselves to be in the line of first adopters and while improving air quality is an issue for all, businesses can only switch away from petrol and diesel cars and vans if they are 100% confident in alternatives available. Today, that is far from the case.”
And ICFM director Peter Eldridge also said more work is needed by the Government to drive change and provide incentives for fleets/drivers and a clear long-term policy for all fuel types.
“Fleet operators are not averse to change, but they will not expose themselves or their businesses to risks. Plug-in vehicles must be attractive to mainstream fleet operations in terms of technology and cost and currently there remains too many unknowns across a sector that remains embryonic in terms of sales,” he finished.