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article imageUK to ban fossil fuel-powered vehicles in 12 — 15 years

By Karen Graham     Feb 13, 2020 in Environment
London - Britain will ban sales of new gasoline and diesel cars from 2035 - five years earlier than planned - heaping pressure on an auto industry that is already struggling to cope with a global sales slump and the fallout from Brexit.
According to a statement from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office, "the Government plans to bring forward an end to the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans to 2035, or earlier if a faster transition is feasible, subject to consultation, as well as including hybrids for the first time."
However, UK's Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps revised that number downward - from 15 years to just 12 years - when he told BBC Radio 5 Live it could happen by 2032, adding there would be consultation, as the BBC reported on Wednesday.
"Michael Gove announced the original 2040, the Prime Minister last week said actually we would like to do that by 2035 at the latest," Shapps said in the interview. "We have said 2035 or even 2032. That's in consultation, we will say 2032-2035."
The UK will be hosting the COP26 UN climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland later this year, and Prime Minister Johnson appears to be taking the responsibility for making the UK shine in the eyes of the world with great seriousness. This new commitment puts the United Kingdom in a select group of countries leading the phase-out of fossil fuel-powered vehicles.
Norway wants all new passenger cars and vans sold in the country to be zero-emission vehicles by 2025, while India has called for new cars sold there to be powered by electricity by 2030. Once the UK's ban goes into effect, only electric or hydrogen-powered cars and vans will be available.
2010 Mitsubishi i-MiEV (GA MY10) hatchback getting a charge.
2010 Mitsubishi i-MiEV (GA MY10) hatchback getting a charge.
Automotive industry responds
Representatives from the automotive industry have raised concerns over the timeline, wanting to know if the government would continue to subsidize the sales of electric vehicles, a huge amount of charging infrastructure, and potential job losses.
"It's extremely concerning that government has seemingly moved the goalposts for consumers and industry on such a critical issue," Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said in a statement, according to CNN News.
"With the current demand for this still expensive technology still just a fraction of sales, it's clear that accelerating an already very challenging ambition will take more than industry investment."
Data shows that EV sales rose 144 percent last year, amounting to almost two percent of the total number of cars on the road. In 2019, nearly 1.5 million new combustion engine cars were sold in Britain. Only 37,000 electric cars were sold. Charging infrastructure is not in place country-wide and this is a concern for drivers.
Shapps sought to ease anxiety by assuring the public in his interview that additional infrastructure for electric cars was part of the government's budget. "We have domestic car producers and we want to help them to transition so we are doing a lot of work." Prime Minister Johnson has pledged that no electric car owner would be more than 30 miles from a charging station.
UK car production fell 14 percent last year, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders - the sector's third consecutive annual decline. Then, there is still the reverberations from Brexit to contend with, and now, the coronavirus outbreak. These two issues may cause disruptions in the supply chain, and this is a growing concern for the au=tomotive sector.
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