Vehicle manufacturers take control in the UK

Oct 20 | 2023

The UK seems to have reacted badly to the statement from the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, that the ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol cars will be extended by five years from 2030 to 2035.

Although the UK still claims to retain its commitment to net zero emission by 2050 the government has decided to change some of its tactics along the way, including this previous commitment.

The received wisdom from manufacturers appears to be one of frustration.  They don’t mind what the cut-off date is, but to change it when their plans are already well advanced is less than helpful.

Nissan Motor Company, for example, has said that it will not be changing its plan to sell only Electric Vehicles (EVs) in Europe by 2030. The announcement by Nissan came after several other car makers, including Renault, have already committed to going all-electric in Europe by 2030. Ford and Stellantis are also planning to be fully electric in Europe by 2030 while Volvo is planning to only sell EVs globally by 2030. 

Trade bodies in the UK have added their voices to the discontent.  “We seek urgent clarity from government on what [the] announcement means for the future of HGVs and coaches,” said Chris Ashley, Policy Lead for Environment and Vehicles at the Road Haulage Association (RHA). “Businesses looking to play their part on the road to net zero need certainty, not delays. Government needs to collaborate with industry to come up with a detailed plan that provides certainty for investment, drives innovation, and directs support for those who want to do the right thing. This is the only way to bring down costs and encourage companies to make the switch to net zero in the long term. Simply changing deadlines without a clear plan in place will do neither. We will continue to seek the clarity and certainty our industry urgently needs to bring costs down.”

David Wells OBE, Chief Executive of business group Logistics UK said: “Pushing back the deadlines to decarbonise, rather than making progress on the investment and policies logistics businesses need to implement the route to net zero, is unhelpful and will discourage private investment in the UK and its industries. There is still much to be done, from delivering a charging network to confirming plans for alternatively fuelled vehicles, but our industry remains committed to achieving net zero.”

He added, “As a sector, logistics works hard to deliver on time for all sectors of the economy – if new decarbonisation deadlines are to be achieved, it is vital for the health of the UK’s supply chain, and therefore our economy, that the government does the same. At a time when industry needs detail and action, delay just creates more uncertainty.”

With the statements from the manufacturers it appears that the industry is taking the matter into its own hands rather than accepting a lead from government.  As the UK is poised for a general election next year, and there’s the likelihood of a change of political approach, that might be just as well.