Britain’s ICE Vehicle Sales Ban With Have Unintended Consequences.
“However, we will allow the sale of hybrid cars and vans that can drive a significant distance with no carbon coming out of the tailpipe until 2035,”
Automakers welcomed the ban through gritted teeth, environmentalists loved it and wanted more, while there were warnings of imminent job losses and the likelihood average earners won’t be able to afford electric cars when traditional ones are banned by Britain in 2030.
There were also questions about details of the ban on internal combustion engines (ICE) by 2030 and hybrids by 2035. Hybrids can come in various guises. There’s the traditional Toyota Prius hybrid with an electric motor to augment the ICE one with almost no electric standalone range, the plug-in hybrid which allows between 30 and maybe 45 miles of electric-only driving, and the mild hybrid, which uses electric systems to boost the efficiency of ICE engines.
If mild hybrids are allowed up until 2035 the blow to the automotive industry would be much more bearable, given a majority of ICE cars will soon have this technology.
Britain had originally planned to ban ICE cars in 2040, then 2032, and now 2030 to cut CO2 emissions as part of its campaign to fight climate change. France and Spain still have a 2040 target. Germany is still undecided.
In a statement, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson hinted only plug-in hybrids will be allowed after 2030.
“However, we will allow the sale of hybrid cars and vans that can drive a significant distance with no carbon coming out of the tailpipe until 2035,” Johnson said.
Britain’s automotive industry lobby group, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said the 2030 target was a big challenge.
“We are pleased to see Government accept the importance of hybrid transition technologies – which drivers are already embracing as they deliver carbon savings now – and commit to additional spending on purchase incentives,” SMMT CEO Mike Hawes said.
“Success will depend on reassuring consumers that they can afford these new technologies, that they will deliver their mobility needs and, critically, that they can recharge as easily as they refuel. For that, we look to others to step up and match our commitment,” Hawes said.
Brussels-based lobby group Transport & Environment (T&E) welcomed the plan and said the ICE ban targets were essential if Britain was to meet its 2050 climate change targets.
“The shift to electric vehicles is good for our environment, our health, as well as our economy,” Greg Archer, UK director at T&E said.
GreenPeace welcomed the plan in part but didn’t like the extension to 2035 offered to plug-in hybrids, which it has called “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing”.
“Allowing any kind of new hybrid cars or vans to continue coming on to our roads beyond 2030 would jeopardize the U.K.’s chances of meeting our legally binding carbon reduction targets,” GreenPeace U.K. said in statement.
BMW CEO Oliver Zipse said bringing forward the ban on ICE cars will mean many car buyers simply won’t be able to afford a vehicle, with big consequences for people and carmakers.
“If that’s the case we will produce the electric vehicles but whether this is particularly wise is another matter because the effect will be that many car drivers will not be able to afford to drive cars any more, or to access the charging infrastructure,” Zipse was quoted as saying by the London “Daily Telegraph” last week.
According to Gautam Kalghatgi, visiting professor at Oxford University, this move to favor electric cars and an early phase-out of ICE vehicles is a wasteful dead-end. He has said ICE vehicles could make a big contribution to cutting CO2 long-term, but this move to end production early and will squander a powerful asset.
“Auto manufacturers will soon start dismissing their research staff because after 2025 no one will be doing any R&D. Banning ICE cars is denying the simplest and cheapest way to improve the sustainability of transport. And it’s incredibly stupid, they want to ban hybrids too,” said Kalghatgi, a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, said in an interview in the summer.
Won’t Dent CO2 targets
Kalghatgi said dumping ICE cars wouldn’t make much of a dent in CO2 emissions either. He said small electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe have a CO2 edge, but bigger cars with much larger batteries don’t have an advantage in CO2 emissions when considering the manufacturing process, the use of raw materials like lithium, cobalt and graphite, and end-of-life recycling.
Reuters Breaking Views column saw the move, which is part of an overall green package, was a bold start.
“Still, banning petrol (gasoline and diesel) car sales from 2030 is a bold move in a country where electric vehicles are less than 1% of the 40 million-strong fleet, and an apt one given transport accounts for nearly 30% of the U.K.’s 450 million tonnes of annual (CO2) emissions,” Braking Views columnist George Hay said.