The UK government has moved its target to ban all new petrol, diesel and hybrid car sales forward by five years, to 2035. The move means that the last date you’ll be able to buy a brand new ICE-powered car in this country is just 15 years away.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will speak of the policy at an event scheduled to confirm a United Nations climate summit due in November. He will add that the date will be moved even further forward if it’s possible.
With model cycles lasting around half that time, and prices of BEVs still at crazy highs compared to ICE-powered siblings, it’s likely that consumers will now only see two more all-new versions of any given BEV before the proposed date. It’s therefore extremely unlikely that prices will have been brought down into a competitive line with combustion-fuelled cars.
In turn, that presents the likelihood of a severe new-car sales collapse as the public is forced to hang onto older, ICE-powered cars for longer due to being unable to afford a suitable BEV or FCV (hydrogen fuel cell vehicle).
The date has been moved in order to try to force the public’s hand by 2050, the assumption being that the overwhelming majority of ICE-driven cars bought in 2035 will have been scrapped and replaced with BEVs by the target date for the nation to be at net zero carbon emissions; 2050.
It presents the industry with a grave challenge: how to develop enough variety of BEVs quickly enough, with all the associated R&D spend, while knowing full well that in 15 years there will be a sales catastrophe, at least in the UK and any other nations that match the new target. As we have previously written, it’s almost certain to lead to a parts-sharing charisma whitewash.
At present there are no BEV or FCV estate cars in series production. There are only a few A-segment ones, too, and most of those cheapest BEVs are VW Group products based on the same parts. Elsewhere there are very limited options compared to the breadth of choice across ICE models.
New BEVs are predominantly emerging as SUVs or derivatives, which fit core market trends but may leave little room for those who want or need something different. We have 15 years to see what else car makers can come up with – and at what cost to the consumer.