Critics Warn Petrol & Diesel Ban Could Cost ‘Trillions’ As Drivers ‘Remain In The Dark’

  • Date: 26/07/17
  • The Daily Telegraph

The Government has committed to banning the sale of all new diesel and petrol cars by 2040 in a bid to encourage people to switch to electric and hybrid vehicles. But motoring experts have raised a series of concerns over the Government’s clean air strategy.

We have taken a look at the initial reaction to the proposals:

‘A tall order’

Jim Holder, editorial director of What Car? magazine, said it would be “a tall order” to increase the market share of electrified vehicles from 4 per cent of new car sales today to 100 per cent in just 23 years.

“The car industry has proved time and again that it can hit demanding targets, but at the moment electrified cars are both more expensive and less usable than traditionally-engined ones,” he said.

“These are hurdles that must be overcome to win over car buyers.”

Mr Holder said concerns over the charging infrastructure, the response of drivers to electric cars and the loss of billions of pounds of fuel duty meant “the risk is that this announcement creates more problems than it solves”.

‘Diesel owners remain in the dark’

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said putting local authorities in charge of imposing restrictions on vehicles meant diesel owners “remain in the dark over where and when they will be able to use their cars and at what cost”.

He told the Press Association: “While it would be good to see the Government putting some money on the table to sort out the air quality issue, a locally-led approach could create a confusing patchwork of rules for motorists.”

There is still “a lot to do” to get the take-up of ultra-low emission cars “on the right trajectory” as there are only 100,000 of them on the road out of a car fleet of more than 30 million, Mr Gooding said.

He added that while the introduction of a scrappage scheme “sounds good”, the absence of a firm plan shows how difficult it is to create a “meaningful, cost-effective model”.

‘New measures could cost trillions’

Quentin Willson, former presenter of Top Gear, told Good Morning Britain the new measures would cost trillions.

He said: “You are going to have to get rid of 15 million diesel cars, you’ll have to change car factories, no more petrol stations, just think about what that’s going to do.

“I know it’s 23 years away, but it is going to be a huge bill for both industry and consumers.

“I have no problem with the ideology … the practicality of it is, will we in 22 years have the infrastructure, the lithium-ion batteries that will give us one charge that delivers 300 miles?

“Will we be able to actually support all this new technology which is as yet not proven?”

‘Plenty of factors need to be addressed’

The AA described the ambition to stop the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040 as “a step in the right direction” but insisted there were “plenty of factors that need to be addressed”.

Significant investment will be required to install charging points across the country, including fast-charge points so cars can be topped up within half an hour, according to the firm’s roads policy spokesman Jack Cousens.

He predicted that the National Grid would be under pressure to “cope with a mass switch-on after the evening rush hour”.

Mr Cousens said affordability would play a key role in achieving the Government’s ambitions and families on low incomes would need assistance and incentives to make the switch to electric cars.

He warned that although eight out of 10 drivers say they want clean air, many are sceptical whether a roll-out of Clean Air Zones in cities across the UK would be handled fairly, noting that car drivers are “not the only source of air pollution”.

“Clean Air Zones should be the port of last resort rather than the position of first response,” he added.

‘Automotive sector could be ‘undermined’

Mike Hawes of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said the automotive sector could be “undermined” if the industry was not given enough time to adapt to the new policy.

He said: “Much depends on the cost of these new technologies and how willing consumers are to adopt battery, plug in hybrid and hydrogen cars.

“Currently demand for alternatively-fuelled vehicles is growing but still at a very low level as consumers have concern over affordability, range and charging points.

“Outright bans risk undermining the current market for new cars and our sector which supports over 800,000 jobs across the UK so the industry instead wants a positive approach which gives consumers incentives to purchase these cars.”

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