‘It’s an insult’: drivers react to Rishi Sunak’s electric car U-turn

<span>Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

Rishi Sunak’s announcement that he will delay banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by five years to 2035 in a U-turn on the government’s climate commitments has triggered international condemnation and anger from industry.

The policy shift came on Wednesday, as the prime minister stated that there would also be a slowdown in the phasing out of gas boilers and that the requirement for landlords to make their properties energy efficient would be scrapped.

Here, six UK drivers share their reaction to the electric vehicle (EV) policy change and explain how they will be affected.

‘It’s a desperate last throw of the dice’

Paul, 48, joiner in Glasgow:

“I cannot afford to buy a new car but I’m determined not to buy another petrol vehicle. I have been running a 10-year-old Honda and planned to keep it for another few years until there are more secondhand EVs on the market. Sunak has betrayed us ‘hard working British people’ who are intent on doing the right thing.

“If this is implemented and the availability of secondhand EVs is delayed, I will be forced to consider whether to have a car or not. I will not buy another petrol car. I’d rather walk. The oil companies can buy politicians but not me or my child’s future.

“It’s a desperate last throw of the dice to create division around net zero. It’s an insult to the electorate.”

‘We need infrastructure before we phase out fossil fuels’

Deepak Mohan, 56, business architect in Hampshire:

“I am happy with Sunak’s announcement – I think he’s being pragmatic. While climate change needs to be addressed, it cannot happen at the cost of putting our citizens in misery.

“Let’s be honest, the infrastructure is not ready for a full phase-out of fossil fuels. We need to develop the infrastructure before we implement fully electric vehicles and heat pumps.

“I’ve researched electric cars and talked to a number of owners and come to the conclusion that the technology for EVs and infrastructure is still developing. I drive a diesel car – I know I need to make the change, my next car will be a hybrid and not electric.”

‘I had hoped for a more affordable secondhand market’

Lucy Trenchard, 67, local councillor in Suffolk:

“It hasn’t changed my desire to buy electric but it may have impacted my ability to do so since I was relying on the secondhand market to grow as purchasers of new electric cars move on to newer models, releasing older models on to the secondhand market.

“I, like many others, will never be able to afford a new electric car but had hoped for a boom in the more affordable secondhand market. I believe Sunak’s announcement has damaged this aspiration.

“Rowing back on net zero targets is not the way to go and to defend it as long-term planning when in reality it is a short-term political expedient is disingenuous and disastrous on several fronts.”

‘Manufacturers will already have plans for 2030’

Ian Bruce, 65, retired from supply chain role at a major car manufacturer in Northumberland:

“It’s a disaster for the car industry. Manufacturers will already have plans in place for 2030. They do a lot of pre-build – so with plastic and steel parts, if they’ve not already started making them, they’ll already be ordered. These are supply chains with long lead times – generally, plans are eight years in making.

“My experience of the car industry is that change of direction costs lots of money – the change proposed will impact the bottom line.

“We should always be looking forward as a country – those targets are hard but we have to push forward. This looks backwards.”

‘This will stop us fitting chargers at my flat’

Simon Hedges, 62, works in IT in Mid Devon:

“It’s disgusting. We need more electric chargers in the rural area in which I live (my village has none), but this announcement will remove the deadline pressure meaning slower provision.

“The announcement will probably mean my next car is not electric. I live in a small village that has no chargers and I cannot fit my own charger because I am in a flat.

“I am due to replace my car in the next two or three years, but because of the deadline slippage, my village is less likely to have chargers within that timeframe. Also, I can no longer use the 2030 deadline to pressure the others in my block into fitting communal chargers.”

‘We all have a responsibility to reduce our impact’

Zoe, 37, midwife in Gloucestershire:

“I wasn’t surprised – I expect the Conservatives to undermine their pledges. They don’t care about us, the environment, the climate or even public opinion.

“We have one electric car and it’s amazing, much cheaper to run and quite frankly more fun to drive.

“We will get another EV because, despite what our government do or say, we all have a responsibility to do our best and reduce our own environmental impact. ”