'I'm not asking to scrap the ICE ban, just delay it a little'

Mike Rutherford calls on the Prime Minister to push back the 2030 ban

Opinion 2030

Feeling good about 2030 – the most game-changing, controversial year of our motoring lives? Happy that you elected those here-today, gone- tomorrow politicians who have withdrawn your right to buy a new petrol or diesel car from 2030? 

Be honest – do we really believe that eventually, EVs will have the same retail prices as equivalent petrol or diesel models? Assuming that you’re not priced out of the motoring market onto public transport (this might just be part of the ‘plan’), do you actually like, trust and approve of the eerily quiet electricity-generating companies, plus their still-too-common power outages? And how confident are you that the EV charging networks, infrastructure, reliability, pricing and the like will be fit for purpose across hundreds of thousands of British miles in 2030?

I’m desperately lacking in belief and confidence in all of the above, yet my belief in, and admiration for, EVs and EV tech for some drivers is super-strong.   

As for trust in ruling politicians, my faith in them is at the other end of the scale. I don’t remember Boris and Co ever saying, “Vote us into office, and we’ll ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030.” That’s because a manifesto commitment or quote like that at General Election time might have lost him it. 

We’re about 100 months away from this deadline. And as far as I can tell, it was arrived at without asking, considering or researching all interested parties. 

Was a discussion had with the UK public? With the global car industry? Did anyone ask the energy suppliers if they can eliminate the dreaded power cuts and create and deliver enough clean ‘juice’ to millions of near-future EV users? No, no and no again, I fear.

Last month I spoke with one or two international car company directors plus leading UK dealership owners and CEOs. None expressed confidence that the 2030 deadline will be properly, fairly and smoothly met. This month Renault and Dacia said they’d seek an extension to 2040. Not because they can’t and don’t do EVs, but because they know how massive change happens in a massive global industry. The politicians don’t have a clue.

It seems increasingly likely that somebody in or around the Government plucked 2030 out of the air, not fully knowing or caring how impossibly difficult it will be for the public and the industry, never mind the Government of the day, who – as things stand – is largely and insanely kissing goodbye to billions in petrol and diesel taxes and duties. 

With all this in mind, a stay of execution would be appropriate, wouldn’t it? I’m not asking to scrap the rule that says you can have any new car you like as long as it doesn’t run on petrol or diesel. Just asking for the introduction of that rule to be delayed a little. 

The current Prime Minister is unlikely to still be in the job eight years from now. So before he acquires his pipe and slippers, he needs to speak up – sooner rather than later.

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“We’ve had a change of plan and some consumers will still be able to buy certain new, highly efficient, low-emission petrol and diesel cars beyond 2030,” is all he needs to say.

C’mon Boris. You know it makes sense.

Do you think the government should push back the 2030 ban? Let us know in the comments below...

Chief columnist

Mike was one of the founding fathers of Auto Express in 1988. He's been motoring editor on four tabloid newspapers - London Evening News, The Sun, News of the World & Daily Mirror. He was also a weekly columnist on the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Times. 

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