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In the ever-evolving world of automotive policy, the UK Government has once again shifted gears.
Initially slated for 2030, the ban on new petrol and diesel cars has been postponed to 2035.
The announcement has seen strong reactions from all areas, including car manufacturers and climate change groups.
The question now is: what does this five-year delay signify?
Is it a necessary move, a concession, or a potential misstep?
Here, we will look at the complexities of this policy change.
When Prime Minister Rishi Sunak took the stage at Downing Street, the automotive industry braced for impact. The announcement that the "vast majority" of cars would be electric by 2030 was expected.
However, the caveat that the consumer should have the final say in vehicle choice marked a significant departure from previous government directives.
The change will bring into focus the Government's commitment to addressing climate change and the understanding of the need for certainty for car manufacturers.
The automotive industry's response to the delay has been far from monolithic.
Ford, a stalwart in the electric vehicle (EV) arena, expressed overt dissatisfaction. Lisa Brankin, Ford UK Chair, highlighted the industry's substantial investments in meeting the original 2030 deadline.
Her sentiment was echoed by Simon Williams, RAC's head of policy, who warned that the delay could slow the industry's transition to electric powertrains.
The overarching sentiment is frustration, tinged with apprehension about the UK's shifting automotive landscape.
Public sentiment is a complex tapestry of opinions.
On one end, a segment views the delay as a sensible move, allowing for a more gradual transition to electric vehicles.
On the other, environmental groups argue that the uncertainty undermines the urgency of combating climate change.
Recent polls indicate a growing public concern about the long-term environmental ramifications of such policy shifts. This only adds another layer of complexity to the debate.
The delay in the ban has far-reaching implications for the UK's Net Zero strategy. This aims to neutralise harmful greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The postponement could increase emissions in the interim, affecting the nation's carbon footprint.
In addition, it raises questions about the UK's role in the global fight against climate change. This potentially undermines its position as a leader in environmental sustainability.
From an economic standpoint, the delay offers a reprieve to the automotive industry. Some are already grappling with challenges such as supply chain disruptions and semiconductor shortages.
The five-year extension provides manufacturers with a broader window to adapt and innovate. The likes of Telsa may leave some behind, however.
However, this economic cushion comes at a cost.
The delay could stifle innovation and slow the rate at which cleaner, more efficient technologies are adopted.
The delay opens the door for potential policy revisions, most notably the possible reintroduction of the plug-in car grant.
Axed in June 2022, the grant could serve as a significant incentive for consumers to opt for electric vehicles.
However, the government has yet to make any official announcements, leaving the industry and consumers in a state of uncertainty.
The decision to delay the new petrol and diesel car ban has clear issues for people of different viewpoints.
For those concerned with climate change, this is clearly frustrating. As many feel the time is running out to make meaningful change, the delay in stopping the sale of petrol and diesel cars will bring into question the commitment of the Government to dealing with a critical issue.
For vehicle manufacturers who have already committed to changing their businesses to manufacture alternative-fueled vehicles, this will also be frustrating.
And as for the comments about the choice for a new car, should be for the individual? Are the Government abdicating any responsibility to deal with the subject?
And even before this announcement, how was the country gearing up to be ready for 2030? Were there even enough charging points in place to deal with the increase in electric vehicles?
Lots of questions and probably not many answers.
The new deadline is now set for 2035.
There is currently no official confirmation, but it remains a topic of discussion.
The delay could have implications for the country's carbon footprint and its global standing in environmental sustainability.
Published 23/9/23, written by Mark Griffiths