The United Kingdom (UK) has delayed a ban on diesel and petrol cars by five years, officially pushing the initiative back to its original deadline. The news has upset some automakers as they have already made integral investment decisions based on the upcoming goal.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Wednesday that he would delay the gas car sales ban until 2035, citing hopes to soften financial burdens on individual households, according to a report from Reuters. The news comes after the country pushed the goal forward to 2030 just three years ago from an initial 2035 target, adding to automaker frustration.
Because the upfront cost for families is still high, and to give us more time to prepare, we’re easing the transition to electric vehicles.
That means you’ll still be able to buy new petrol and diesel cars and vans until 2035, in line with countries like Germany and France. pic.twitter.com/4nPiQ0gvGc
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) September 20, 2023
Automakers including Kia, Volkswagen and Ford have spoken out about the change of plans, noting the back and forth as confusing. In the next few years, Kia is seeking to release nine electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK, and the company called the recent change disappointing.
“Today’s announcement … alters complex supply chain negotiations and product planning, whilst potentially contributing to consumer and industry confusion,” said one Kia spokesperson.
The companies also pointed to a need for more certainty on policy, in line with recent EV adoption goals reached by the country. Some say the change could negatively affect EV adoption, risking a major momentum loss leading up to the mandate.
“We urgently need a clear and reliable regulatory framework which creates market certainty and consumer confidence, including binding targets for infrastructure rollout and incentives to ensure the direction of travel,” a Volkswagen UK spokesperson said.
Charging station operators also joined the call for clarity, noting that the move could put off consumers thinking about buying EVs. Adrian Keen, the chief executive of public charging network InstaVolt, suggests the move could risk the rollout of vital infrastructure, like EV charging stations.
“This delay will also put investment in EV infrastructure at risk, not to mention the wider market including battery, solar and green energy initiatives,” Keen said.
Ford has made financial commitments of as much as $50 billion to electrify its vehicles, and the automaker also faces labor strikes from the United Auto Workers (UAW) union in North America. The U.S. automaker responded to the delay saying that it undermines the company’s needs amidst what it called the “the biggest industry transformation in over a century.”
“Our business needs three things from the UK government: ambition, commitment and consistency,” said Ford UK Chair Lisa Brankin. “A relaxation of 2030 would undermine all three.”
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