Exclusive: Andy Palmer on the 2030 petrol and diesel ban

Former Aston Martin boss Andy Palmer explains why the ban on diesel and petrol cars by 2030 will have been met with both trepidation and optimism in the boardroom

The headline-grabber amongst a raft of ‘green’ initiatives announced by the UK Government was the plan to ban all diesel and petrol cars by 2030 (and hybrids of indeterminate pedigree by 2035).

On the face of it, this is a move that should be welcomed. It’s big, bold and ambitious. Yet, this announcement will no doubt have been greeted with a degree of trepidation in the boardrooms of British automakers. In a global market, the UK needs to see this kind of commitment replicated worldwide. If this is a unilateral act of the UK alone, the unintended consequences would be to hand a sizeable advantage to foreign manufacturers with less enthusiastic commitments to the green agenda. Thankfully, as hosts of the global Climate Change Conference (COP26) next year in Glasgow, the UK has a unique opportunity to demonstrate its leadership and challenge others to follow suit.

There’ll also be question marks over how British manufacturers are supported over this next decade of transition. The UK is a world leader in building off-road SUVs and luxury vehicles. Yet, these manufacturers are the ones who will need the most support to be ready for 2030. Expect the CEOs of these companies to be lobbying hard for government grants and support with the capital expenditure required to pivot operations accordingly. 

Make no mistake, this announcement, with global buy-in, has the potential to be transformational for the automotive industry. The technology giants, namely Apple and Google, have been teetering on the edges of the industry for some years now. With their deep pockets and big ambitions, this initiative could provide them with the perfect platform to make a serious play in the market and it’ll leave the established names in the industry glancing over their shoulders.

Further down the supply chain, the UK needs to invest heavily in battery R&D. Not simply licensing technology from China and Korea but inventing and developing homegrown chemistries that could put the UK on the path to global leadership in this space. The UK is the country, after all, that invented the lithium-ion battery that has gotten us this far.

Ultimately, this announcement is positive news – but as always, the devil is in the detail. My colleagues in the industry will have a long list of questions for the Prime Minister on the back of this initiative and the government has fewer than 10 years to get everything in place to make it both a commercial and environmental success. Let’s hope they get it right.

Andy Palmer is currently Non-Executive Vice Chairman of InoBat Auto, a Slovak battery producer and Non-Executive Chairman of UK bus manufacturer Optare.

Switching to an electric car? These are the best electric cars on sale now...

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen ID.4 GTX 2021 review
Volkswagen ID.4 GTX
Volkswagen ID.4 SUV

New Volkswagen ID.4 GTX 2021 review

VW ID.4 EV gets another electric motor and four-wheel drive in hot GTX form
21 Jun 2021
New Mercedes C-Class 2021 review
Mercedes C-Class - front
Mercedes C-Class

New Mercedes C-Class 2021 review

The new Mercedes C-Class compact exec gets S-Class-inspired tech and new suspension to challenge the BMW 3 Series
21 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen Caddy California 2021 review
Volkswagen Caddy California MPV - front
Volkswagen Caddy

New Volkswagen Caddy California 2021 review

It’s a family hauler and weekend camper all rolled into one, but is the Volkswagen Caddy California any good?
21 Jun 2021
New 2021 Peugeot 308 SW estate arrives with more space
Peugeot 308 SW - front
News

New 2021 Peugeot 308 SW estate arrives with more space

The Peugeot 308 SW joins the hatchback in the range and arrives with two plug-in hybrid options
22 Jun 2021
New Dacia Duster facelift launched with fresh styling and more tech
Dacia Duster facelift - front
Dacia Duster

New Dacia Duster facelift launched with fresh styling and more tech

The budget-conscious Dacia Duster has been updated for 2021 with some subtle design tweaks and a new eight-inch infotainment screen
22 Jun 2021
‘The 2030 combustion engine ban is just around the corner – and we’re running out of time’
opinion: charging
Opinion

‘The 2030 combustion engine ban is just around the corner – and we’re running out of time’

Andy Palmer sees electric car uptake revving-up in the UK but says targeted investment is needed to prevent a stall…
22 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
Fiat 500 vs MINI Electric vs Honda e
Fiat 500 vs Honda e vs MINI Electric
Car group tests

Fiat 500 vs MINI Electric vs Honda e

The new Fiat 500, MINI Electric and Honda e are three retro-inspired electric superminis - but which is best?
19 Jun 2021
New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review
Audi Q4 e-tron 2021  front
Audi Q4 e-tron

New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review

We get involved with the new all-electric Audi Q4 e-tron SUV on UK roads for the first time
17 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review
Nissan Qashqai 2021
Nissan Qashqai

New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review

We get behind the wheel of the larger, more comfortable and higher-tech Nissan Qashqai SUV in the UK
16 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
New 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge EV on sale priced from £49,950
Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge - front
Volvo XC40

New 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge EV on sale priced from £49,950

Volvo has revised the electric XC40’s pricing and trim-level structure, with a simplified three-tier system
22 Jun 2021