Delay in phasing out ICE vehicles is as detrimental as 200 million short-haul flights

A report published by New AutoMotive, the independent transport research organisation, claims that the five year delay in phasing out the sale of new internal combustion engine car, was announced by Rishi Sunak last month, will result in the UK producing an extra 35 million tonnes of greenhouse gases between 2030 and 2050 – the equivalent of 200m short haul  flights.

The UK was set to ban the sale of new ICE vehicles from 2030 but this has now been pushed back to 2035, a move that New AutoMotive estimate will cost car drivers between £6.5bn – £10bn extra in running costs.

The report looks at the impact of the policy change on consumers, the environment and the wider economy.

The government have estimated that drivers could save around £39bn in reduced running costs and £15bn in reduced maintenance costs between now and 2050 by switching to electric vehicles. New AutoMotive’s analysis however, suggests that drivers would save at least 15-25% more if the government had stuck to a 2030 phase out, as the delay in the switchover would result in total costs to consumers of £6.5-9.9bn (in current prices) from filling additional petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles at the pump.

In terms of the obvious environmental impact, the continued sale of petrol and diesel cars through the first half of the 2030s is estimated to result in more than 35 megatonnes of additional greenhouse gas emissions between 2035 and 2049, as cars remain on the road throughout the 2030s and the 2040s – and a continued annual contribution of 1 megatonne of CO2 to the UK’s annual emissions even at 2050.

To balance this out, every person in the UK would need to take for example two to three fewer short haul flights over the same period. Furthermore, the persistence of ICE vehicles on the roads maintains a higher demand for oil and New AutoMotive have calculated that restoring the 2030 switch would reduce UK demand for oil by an amount equivalent to the additional supply which would be extracted from the North Sea under new licences and refined and consumed in the UK between now and 2050 .

In terms of the automotive industry, the motor manufacturers who have committed to producing more EVs, will now be selling into a reduced domestic market. More than 50% of cars sold in the UK by the top 25 manufacturers come from firms which have publicly committed to end sales of petrol and diesel vehicles across Europe ahead of 2035 . Now there is a risk that more of those vehicles will be sold elsewhere, pushing EV prices higher for everyone.

One of the fanfares surrounding the original decision to phase out by 2030 surrounded the jobs being created and  ‘wage premiums’ the UK would enjoy  by being ahead of the pack. All of these benefits have been dropped from the Government’s analysis following the postponement of the switchover.

Ben Nelmes, CEO of New AutoMotive, said: ‘It’s great to see the government is putting a California-style zero emissions vehicle mandate into law, as New AutoMotive has been calling for for two years… The policy will cut costs for motorists and extend consumer choice – and by giving policy stability, it will support expansion of the charging network, grid resilience and more secure supply chains.

‘Indecision and delay are the parents of failure – delaying the transition to electric cars and vans will deter consumers and disrupt business confidence. Rather than relying on miracle technologies or costly scrappage schemes to encourage owners to give up polluting vehicles, it would be cheaper and greener to reinstate the sensible and achievable target of ending sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2030.’


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