The Government’s plan to bring forward the ban of petrol, diesel, and hybrid vehicles is ambitious, but does not have a basis on which to achieve it, said Brian Madderson, Chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association.
Today, plans have been unveiled to move the date when non-electric cars are banned from 2040 to 2035, with a possibility of the date being brought forward further.
The PRA believes that this would not be possible without significant investment into petrol forecourts to provide retrofitted charging infrastructure, which the Government has yet to address. This policy change is largely uncosted, and over reliant on driveway charging points which many drivers will not be able to access.
Madderson added, “Many of our members have already embraced low carbon systems, re-engineering their businesses toward roadside retail with improved car valeting and larger convenience and food-to-go facilities that cater for the slower refilling of electric cars. However, there are significant financial and technical hurdles that will need to be overcome to integrate electric vehicle charging into many of their forecourts.
“Until the issue of credible charging infrastructure is addressed this will impede the mass take up of electric vehicles.”
Seán Kemple, Director of Sales at Close Brothers Motor Finance, said, “This measure is a step in the right direction for the sustainability of both the planet and the motor industry.
“The last two years have seen accelerating demand for alternative fuel vehicles, with range anxiety and scepticism about infrastructure fading in light of the impressive efforts from the government, manufacturers, and dealers alike. The policy should also spark a welcome boost for the second hand market, as drivers more suited to traditional fuel types turn to used cars to meet their needs.
“However, two thirds of dealers told us that the deadline was too soon, citing concerns about fuel confusion and consumer confidence. It’s vital that dealers are supported throughout this transition period, and given the tools and guidance to shape their forecourts to meet the demand of the future.”
The Government is suggesting that the 2035 ban could be brought forward – subject to a consultation – “if a faster transition was possible”. Some stakeholders have called for the ban to be introduced by 2030 at the latest.
Mr Lyes added, “Drivers themselves are showing greater interest in purchasing electric vehicles, with our latest findings showing a doubling to 6% of drivers that will opt for a pure electric vehicle as their next car choice. But while EV take-up is accelerating, high initial purchase prices are still holding sales back.
“These will inevitably come down as manufacturers bring out more and more electric vehicles. In the short to medium-term we should not, however, overlook the role plug-in hybrid vehicles with cleaner than ever petrol engines could play in bridging the gap to going completely electric.
“In the meantime we urge the Government to extend the plug-in car grant for at least another three years to help those that want to go electric, but who are put off by the high initial costs. At a local level, authorities should also incentivise their use with cheaper parking rates and lower residents’ parking permit fees.”
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said, “Based on steadily falling wholesale prices January should have been a good month for drivers at the pumps, but instead they ended up being paying well over the odds at the pumps. In fact, January was a perfect example of ‘rocket and feather’ pricing where prices go up far faster than they come down.
“Retailers were very quick to protect themselves from a slight jump in the price of oil caused by the tensions between Iran and the US at the start of January by putting up forecourt prices, but when the cost of a barrel dropped back, for some reason, retail prices carried on going up.
“Our biggest retailers – the supermarkets – blatantly resisted passing on the savings they were making to drivers until the RAC publicly called on them to do so on 27 January when RAC Fuel Watch data showed there was scope for a large cut. Two days later a headline-grabbing 3p a litre cut was announced.