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Electric cars are growing in popularity and it won't be long before we're all driving them - even if the government has delayed the ban on new petrol and diesel cars to 2035
Prime minister Rishi Sunak has pulled the plug on the British government's pledge to ban the sale of new cars powered solely by petrol or diesel engines by 2030.
Instead, he has pushed the date back by five years. Among the reasons for the change, widely seen by critics as a backwards step on the road to a net zero future, are the lack of charging infrastructure and the cost of new electric vehicles, or EVs.
However, the change of date is unlikely to have any real effect on the car industry's transition from internal combustion engines to battery power, which manufacturers are already firmly committed to.
It's possible it may prolong the lifespan of a handful of outgoing petrol and diesel cars but in practice, almost all will have disappeared from showrooms by 2030.
Between now and then, they will be steadily made obsolete by a mix of pure electric cars and hybrids, which can run on electric as well as through using a conventional engine. Hybrids were always going to be banned from 2035, and Mr Sunak hasn't changed that date.
The prime minister's announcement, then, is a bit of a red herring and best seen in the context of a tired Conservative government seeking to open up a new front on net zero ahead of the next general election.
In parallel to pushing back the internal combustion ban, the government appears to still be committed to its zero emission vehicle (ZEV) targets. These propose that by 2024, at least 22 per cent of the new cars sold will be zero emissions i.e. electric. For context, the UK market is already on target to see EVs reach around 18 per cent share by the end of this year.
The proposed targets increase to 80 per cent by 2030, hitting the 100 per cent mark in 2035. The five-year reprieve for ICE cars won't make a lot of difference to that. Under the original plan, plug-in hybrids were going to be the only cars with petrol or diesel still on sale after 2030 and it seems more likely than not that will remain the case.
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