Government ‘has lost sight of motorists’ over 2030 petrol and diesel ban

Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent
·2-min read

The Government has “lost sight” of motorists in its plan to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, an automotive industry leader has claimed.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said incentives for buying electric cars and the infrastructure for charging them are “lacking”.

He warned that zero-emission motoring can only be achieved if drivers are encouraged to change their behaviour.

“We can appeal to their good nature and their desire to save the planet, but that won’t transform a market,” he told an SMMT summit on electric cars.

“The ownership experience must be cheaper, more enjoyable, easy. That is not yet the case.”

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He continued: “Government seems to have the automotive industry in its sights, but it seems to have lost sight of one vital player in this deal. The consumer.”

Last week’s Department for Transport decision to cut grants for plug-in cars “sends the wrong message”, Mr Hawes said.

The maximum available grant was reduced from £3,000 to £2,500, while the cost of the most expensive eligible cars was reduced from £50,000 to £35,000.

Mr Hawes said the ban on the sale of traditionally fuelled cars from the end of the decade is “a more onerous target than has been set for any other industry in this country”, including aviation, construction and energy.

But he insisted manufacturers are “stepping up to the plate” with one in four available models having a plug-in option.

Pure battery-electric new cars held a 6.6% share of the new car market in 2020, up from 1.6% during the previous 12 months.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the summit the UK is “on track to meet that 2030 deadline”, with “substantial progress” already made.

But he acknowledged there is “much work to do”, adding: “We need to reach that tipping point where buying an electric car is the natural not the novel thing to do.”