The United Kingdom is following France’s lead with a ban on the sale of vehicles powered by gasoline and diesel by 2040.
Internal pressures have been mounting as well, with the British government having lost legal cases filed by campaign groups. The national government has been taking measures along the way, including a May proposal for a scrappage program to get diesel-powered cars off UK roads.
Earlier this month, France called for the ban of all fossil fuel powered vehicles by 2040.
The mayors of Paris, Madrid, Mexico City, and Athens would like to ban diesel vehicles by 2025. London mayor Sadiq Khan has been calling on the national government to do more about the problem.
“Today we are confirming that that means there should be no new diesel or petrol vehicles by 2040,” environment minister Michael Gove told BBC Radio.
In an interview with Reuters TV, Gove said the goal is to get all the gasoline and diesel vehicles off UK roads by 2050. That comes from concern over health issues from air pollution and a commitment to meet climate change targets, he said.
Reuters TV put the issues in perspective, with it being nearly 65 years since the “great smog of London” nearly came to a standstill.
“Air pollution is still a major headache for the UK government,” Reuters TV said.
Nearly 200 million pounds (about $261 million) will be made available to local governments for rules that would restrict access by diesel-powered vehicles to extremely polluted roads.
Battery electric vehicles are expected to be the technology of choice in a country banning all fossil fuels used to power vehicles.
Electric cars currently make up less than 5 percent of new car registrations in the country, so there is a long way to go. Reaching 5 percent makes for a higher rate than other major markets including the U.S., where plug-in electrified vehicles make for about 1 percent of new vehicle sales; and China, where it accounts for about 2 percent of new vehicle sales.
The BMW i3, Renault Zoe, and Tesla Model S, have been the top three in UK electric vehicle sales this year, according to Auto Express.
Automakers, including Volvo, Volkswagen, BMW, and Daimler, have made strong commitments to bringing EVs to market in Europe and globally. But questions remain over whether stopping the sale of “petrol” (gasoline) and diesel cars would be viable.
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A lack of EV charging stations is an issue to address, analysts and auto industry groups say. There’s also concern coming from automakers about building high volumes of EVs that may not sell.
“We could undermine the UK’s successful automotive sector if we don’t allow enough time for the industry to adjust,” said Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
London mayor Khan is concerned that the government’s commitment isn’t enough, and that steps needed to be taken before 2040 to tackle the problem.
“We need a fully-funded diesel scrappage fund now to get polluting vehicles off our streets immediately, as well as new powers so that cities across the UK can take the action needed to clean up our air,” Khan said in a statement.
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