Britain’s Gasoline Car Ban For 2035 Lacks Detail.
“It’s extremely concerning that government has seemingly moved the goalposts for consumers and industry on such a critical issue”
Britain said it will ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel powered cars in 15 years, drawing predictable praise from environmental organisations, and criticism from auto manufacturers.
The ban, brought forward from 2040, also includes plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, but didn’t provide any details of how this might be achieved. Bizarrely, British government grants of 3,500 pounds ($4,500) for electric vehicles are due to expire at the end of next month.
The Brussels-based green campaigning group Transport & Environment (T&E) described the move as bold. Britain’s Society of Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which speaks for the British auto industry, was outraged.
The charge towards electric cars depends on the availability of crucial raw materials, while this drive to eliminate CO2 also requires a supply of green energy.
The electric recharging network in Britain is threadbare and will require massive investment, while the power grid too will require large dollops of capital to support all-electric motoring.
The lack of detail led some critics to say this was more grandstanding and virtue signalling than a call to action, which will only work if electric cars become more affordable and offer an experience much closer to that provided by the internal combustion engine (ICE). That would include recharging in 2 minutes not 45, and at least twice the range currently on offer from battery electric vehicles (BEVs).
But with 15 years to go, there’s plenty of time to prepare the ground.
T&E welcome the decision to include a ban on plug-in hybrids. These combine small batteries providing perhaps 30 miles of electric only range, combined usually with a gasoline engine.
“This is a bold target that shows a serious commitment to clean up the U.K.’s cars,” said Greg Archer, U.K. director at T&E.
British and European cars and SUVs are already “clean” in terms of noxious gases, but T&E is referring to a lack of carbon dioxide (CO2).
“The government must now quickly implement the regulations needed to make it happen by requiring carmakers to sell increasing numbers of zero-emission cars every year until the phase-out is complete. Clear rules, with dissuasive penalties for auto companies, are the best way to ensure the target is reached,” Archer said.
Britain has already signed up to a tight schedule of CO2 emission cuts as a member of the European Union. The EU has mandated average fuel economy across manufacturers’ fleets the equivalent of about 57 miles per U.S. gallon in 2020/2021, up from 41.9 mpg in 2015. It rises again by 15% in 2025, and hits 92 mpg by 2030.
Experts believe the 92 mpg figure will require almost 100% battery electric cars anyway by 2030, so perhaps the 2035 target will be makeable with ease.
Not so, said the SMMT.
“It’s extremely concerning that government has seemingly moved the goalposts for consumers and industry on such a critical issue. Manufacturers are fully invested in a zero emissions future, with some 60 plug-in models now on the market and 34 more coming in 2020. However, with 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. This is about market transformation, yet we still don’t have clarity on the future of the plug-in car grant – the most significant driver of EV uptake – which ends in just 60 days’ time, while the UK’s charging network is still woefully inadequate,” SMMT CEO Mike Hawes said.
“If the U.K. is to lead the global zero emissions agenda, we need a competitive marketplace and a competitive business environment to encourage manufacturers to sell and build here. A date without a plan will merely destroy value today. So we therefore need to hear how government plans to fulfil its ambitions in a sustainable way, one that safeguards industry and jobs, allows people from all income groups and regions to adapt and benefit, and, crucially, does not undermine sales of today’s low emission technologies, including popular hybrids, all of which are essential to deliver air quality and climate change goals now,” Hawes said.
Industry consultant Global Data also thought more action was needed by the government, pointing out that less than 2% of Britain’s new car sales in 2019 were fully electric.
“The automotive industry is investing in the expensive technology required for electric vehicles and many new models will hit the market in 2020, but the experience of other countries – such as Norway – shows that joined up thinking and coordination of incentives, for purchase and for the cars in use, is necessary to achieve a major uplift to electric vehicle share,” Global Data Automotive Editor David Leggett said in a statement.
“In Britain, we need greater clarity on support measures for plug-ins as well as the commensurate rollout of battery charging infrastructure, which is currently a long way from supporting a much higher electric vehicle share. To get to zero (gasoline) and diesel share by 2035 from the current position, a strategic review of the vehicle market and necessary measures to put it on a realistic pathway to that goal are required,” Leggett said.
Brian Menell, CEO of Techmet, pointed to problems in the supply of crucial metals required to build batteries if demand suddenly jumped.
Techmet deals in commodities like lithium, cobalt, nickel, vanadium rare earths and tungsten.
Menell said it can take up to 10 years to bring mines into production for these important minerals.
“If the Government is serious in driving a shift to EVs they must also consider either investing in the materials pipeline or encourage investors to commit capital into the necessary projects,” Menell said.”
It’s all very well having ambitious plans to make electric cars, but unless the supply of electricity is green too, no progress will be made if the plan is to eliminate CO2.
The OECD’s International Energy Agency (IEA) has said the advent of electric cars actually won’t necessarily make much difference to the output of CO2.
“Even if there were 300 million electric cars (by 2040) with the current power generation system, the impact in terms of CO2 emissions is less than 1% – nothing,” IEA economist Fatih Birol told the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2018.
“If you don’t decarbonize (power), CO2 emissions will not be going down. It may be helpful for the local pollution, but for global emissions it is not,” Birol said.