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Why the UK’s Delay in Banning Petrol and Diesel Cars Won’t Hinder the Shift to Electric Vehicles


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The Delay In Banning Petrol Cars Won’t Slow Down The Purchase Of Electric Cars

The UK has delayed its ban on the sale of new cars which burn petrol or diesel in internal combustion engines (ICE) from 2030 to 2035.


The UK government recently announced that it will be delaying the ban on the sale of new cars powered by petrol or diesel engines. Originally, the ban was set to take effect in 2030, but it has now been pushed back to 2035.

This decision has raised concerns and confusion, especially among car manufacturers who need certainty to plan and invest in the production of electric vehicles (EVs). However, despite the delay, the shift to EVs in the UK is already well underway and is showing no signs of slowing down.

When it comes to the adoption of new technologies, government intervention can only have limited effects. While bans on certain products can be effective in removing them from the market, they are not always practical or feasible. In the case of the ban on petrol and diesel cars, the UK government’s decision to delay the deadline does not change the overall trajectory towards EVs.

The adoption of new technologies typically follows a predictable pattern, often represented by an S-shaped curve known as the diffusion of innovations. This pattern can be observed in the adoption of smartphones, which went from a niche product to almost complete market penetration within a decade. Similarly, the adoption of EVs in the UK has been on a rapid upward trajectory, with EVs now accounting for over 20% of new car sales in 2023, up from less than 0.5% in 2016.

The trend towards EVs in the UK is driven by various factors, including environmental concerns, lower running costs, and tax advantages. According to a YouGov survey, 51% of EV buyers cited environmental reasons as their motivation, while 31% mentioned lower running costs.

The tax advantages of buying an EV also played a significant role, with 25% of buyers considering this factor.

The shift to EVs is not limited to the UK alone. Many European countries, such as Sweden, the Netherlands, and Ireland, have set their own deadlines for phasing out petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

Norway has even set a more ambitious target of 2025. Car manufacturers operating in these markets are developing EVs to meet the needs of the entire European market, making it unlikely that they will reverse their plans due to the UK’s policy change.

Car manufacturers require certainty and stability to invest in new factories, train workers, and produce new vehicles. While the UK government’s decision to delay the ban may create some uncertainty, the overall trend towards EVs is clear.

Manufacturers who gear up to produce EVs and find that there is still demand for petrol and diesel cars can adjust their production accordingly. On the other hand, stockpiling unwanted cars that do not meet the demand for EVs could result in financial losses.

However, the market demand for EVs is expected to continue growing, making it unlikely that car manufacturers will face a significant setback.

The declining number of petrol filling stations in the UK is another indicator of the shift towards EVs. As ICE car ownership drops, the number of petrol stations will also decrease, causing challenges for ICE car owners who rely on refuelling. This shift in infrastructure further supports the unstoppable nature of the EV transition.

Despite the UK government’s decision to delay the ban on petrol and diesel cars, the shift to electric vehicles in the country is well underway and is expected to continue. The adoption of new technologies follows predictable patterns, and the trend towards EVs in the UK mirrors the growth of smartphones in the past decade. The reasons people choose EVs, such as environmental concerns and lower running costs, are unlikely to be significantly influenced by the delay in the ban.

Car manufacturers are also unlikely to deviate from their plans, as they are developing EVs for the wider European market with similar phase-out deadlines. While the delay may create some uncertainty, the overall trajectory towards EVs remains clear, and the UK’s transition to a greener transportation system is inevitable.

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