The UK government has confirmed reports yesterday that it will move back the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by five years, so all sales of new cars from 2035 will be zero emission. Previously, the sale of new cars in Britain with only petrol and diesel engines was to be banned from 2030.

In a statement the government said the move ‘will enable families to wait to take advantage of falling prices over the coming decade if they wish to.’

The UK government is, however, sticking to the 2050 net zero greenhouse gas emissions target for the country.

The UK prime minister Rishi Sunak said: “This country is proud to be a world leader in reaching Net Zero by 2050. But we simply won’t achieve it unless we change.

“We’ll now have a more pragmatic, proportionate, and realistic approach that eases the burdens on families.

“All while doubling down on the new green industries of the future. In a democracy, that’s the only realistic path to Net Zero.”

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The move to push back the 2030 petrol/diesel ban was criticised by a number of manufacturers – most notably Ford – who said that its investment plans for the EV transition had been made under the previous assumption of a 2030 ban.

However, the Financial Times reported today that the UK car industry will still have to meet mandatory electric vehicle sales targets from January, despite ministers pushing back the ban on petrol and diesel car sales.

The newspaper said that planned EV sales share targets still stand, citing people familiar with the discussions. 

The FT noted that sector insiders may now be worried that those goals are now harder to hit for carmakers because the delayed ban on petrol cars will put consumers off buying EVs.

The FT said the UK EV sales scheme involves manufacturers being required to sell an increasing proportion of zero emission cars every year this decade or face fines of up to GBP15,000 a vehicle. It said an initial target requiring 22 percent of each carmaker’s sales in 2024 to be zero emission will remain, as will the goal of 80 percent in 2030.

Interim targets, which include a provision that more than half of new car sales are EVs in 2028, may change slightly, sources told the FT.

Although in 2030 manufacturers will be able to make 20 percent of their sales through petrol, diesel and hybrid cars, that proportion will shrink every year in the run-up to 2035, the report said.