The UK’s recent announcement to delay the ban on the sale of new fossil fuel vehicles until 2035 will not significantly affect the transition to electric vehicles (EVs), despite carmakers’ concerns about in supply chains and investment uncertainty. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak justified the delay as a move to help those who could not afford expensive EVs, rather than a political decision.
Industry analysts, however, argue that the delay undermines investment certainty, especially as British companies try to attract investors to a smaller post-Brexit market. The initial plan, announced in 2020, aims to establish British leadership in the global EV market, surpassing the European Union’s target of 2035 with a 2030 ban.
While the 2030 deadline already allowed for some flexibility, the new mandate is expected to maintain the goal of 80% fully electric vehicles by 2030, with the remaining 20% representing in a mix of fossil fuel and hybrid models by 2035. Other automakers, such as Jaguar Land Rover, have expressed support for the new mandate and the clarity it provides.
Although the delay in the UK may raise some concerns, it is unlikely to have a significant impact on the overall shift towards EVs. Global automakers have already made significant investments in electric technologies, as it has become too expensive to continue producing cars with combustion engines. To compete with Tesla and Chinese producers, traditional car companies must embrace full electrification.
However, critics argue that the UK government’s decision shows a lack of long-term planning and the absence of a clear industrial strategy. This sentiment is shared by figures such as Andy Palmer, former CEO of Aston Martin, who claims that the delay has affected investor confidence and diverted attention to other countries with clearer industrial strategies, such as in Spain.
In addition, the UK faces potential challenges to its Brexit trade deal, particularly in terms of “rules of origin”. This issue could result in 10% tariffs being imposed on EVs sold between the UK and the EU by 2024, affecting the stability of the market.
Overall, while the delay in banning the sale of fossil fuel vehicles raises concerns, it is unlikely to hinder the ongoing transition to electric vehicles. The global auto industry has already invested heavily in electric technologies and the need to compete with the costs of industry leaders such as Tesla and Chinese producers. However, the lack of a clear industry strategy from the UK government and potential commercial challenges may pose further obstacles for the EV market.