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News - 4 February 2020

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UK to ban petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicle sales from 2035.

4 February 2020

(Please note: This news item was updated on 27 March 2020.)

The UK Government has announced plans to ban the sale of petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles from 2035, or earlier if possible.

Although this sounds like good news, there seem to be a number of obstacles that will need to be overcome for this to be achievable:

  • Given that a significant number of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) would need to be on the road by then, where will the material for these vehicles' batteries come from? As we have explained there are both short term and long terms issues with the supply of materials for Li-Ion batteries. Whether the UK intends to make its own batteries for BEVs, to buy batteries "ready made" or to buy assembled BEVs the current production levels worldwide for battery materials just do not support the necessary manufacture of enough batteries and/or BEVs to support the UK Government's plans.

    • Is the intention to continue to plan on the basis of primarily Li-Ion based battery chemistry?

    • If other battery chemistries will be considered and/or used, will they be compatible with the UK plans for (for example) infrastructure?

    • Given that a significant number of BEVs would need to be on the road by 2035, where will the material for these vehicles' batteries come from?

    • Concerns over the availability of materials have been heightened in the light of the coronavirus pandemic, as explained in this Forbes article published in March 2020.

  • At present the UK has about 30,000 charging points for BEVs (excluding the ones in private homes/garages). Many (but not all) of these are for public use.

    • What is the plan to put the infrastructure into place, and what are the key timescales in its execution?

    • In order to provide an adequate charging infrastructure for BEVs how many more charging points will be needed? Given the funds already allocated to the required infrastructure implementation, how much more money will be needed?

    • Given the target figure for the number that will be needed, when will that target be achieved?

    • What decision has been taken to deal with the 30%+ of cars whose owners do not have off-road charging capabilities? Several options have been discussed, but what will the actual solution look like?

  • The estimates of the additional electricity required for the UK's BEVs from 2035 and beyond are around 30%. (See the National Grid plan for details).

    • How will this additional electricity be generated? Is it assumed that the National Grid plan covers this adequately?

    • If it is assumed that the additional requirement for electricity is covered by the National Grid plan, what incentives and constraints will be used to make sure that BEV charging adheres to the pattern of charging assumed by the National Grid?

    • Given the charging infrastructure that will be in place for those car owners without "private" charging facilities, how will the incentives and constraints be applied to that wider motoring community?

When will we see answers to these questions?

STOP PRESS! On 12 February 2020 it was announced that the UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps believes that the date for the ban could be brought forward to 2032. This would make the resolution of the above issues even more challenging and even more urgent.

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