Ministers were last night under pressure to ease off the pedal on their drive towards banning petrol and diesel cars by 2030.
Exclusive polling for the Daily Mail found that only a quarter of the public agree with the Government’s deadline. More than half disagree with the rush to switch to electric cars.
Manufacturers and industry leaders have called on Rishi Sunak to rethink the drastic timescale or risk ruinous economic consequences. Cabinet ministers are also known to have raised concerns.
The target is designed to turbocharge the switch to electric vehicles as part of ministers’ efforts to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. But a major audit by this newspaper has uncovered a series of concerns about the policy, including questions over the supposed financial and environmental benefits, as well as whether Britain’s infrastructure is ready.
Currently each public charging point has an average of 36 drivers fighting over it.
Ministers were last night under pressure to ease off the pedal on their drive towards banning petrol and diesel cars by 2030
There are also fears that the rush to ban new petrol and diesel cars could cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and leave households worse off. The poll, conducted by Survation across the UK, found:
- Only 28 per cent of the public think the ban of new petrol and diesel vehicle sales in 2030 is a good idea, compared with 53 per cent who think it is a bad idea;
- A similarly small proportion – 29 per cent – would feel confident buying an electric car to use as their only vehicle based on the current infrastructure; by contrast, 39 per cent would not be confident;
- Only 21 per cent feel confident Britain will have the necessary infrastructure to support electric cars ready in time for 2030, while 50 per cent do not feel confident;
- Nearly half of the public (42 per cent) are concerned about the economic consequences of the looming ban, compared with just 18 per cent who are not.
The Government initially planned to phase out new petrol and diesel cars from 2040 – but this date was brought forward by five years in February 2019 and by a further five years in November 2020. The ban will be imposed on Britain a full five years before similar rules are introduced by the EU.
The poll findings lay bare the public disquiet at the pace of change that this radical target will demand of households, public authorities and industry.
Exclusive polling for the Daily Mail found that only a quarter of the public agree with the Government’s deadline. More than half disagree with the rush to switch to electric cars
A Whitehall source told the Mail that Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch has warned fellow ministers that the 2030 deadline risks wrecking the car industry. Toyota said last year it will end UK car production if hybrids are banned in 2030, while Vauxhall’s parent group Stellantis warned MPs in May that there is ‘insufficient battery production’ in the UK and Europe to meet the target.
Mrs Badenoch is understood to have raised concerns about the target with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and Transport Secretary Mark Harper. A source said: ‘Kemi is responsible for the car industry and she has heard concerns from the industry about the zero emissions vehicle mandate, so she is raising it with colleagues.’
Lord Frost, the former Brexit minister, said: ‘This polling shows that voters are deeply hostile to the constraints on their freedom and lifestyle that net-zero requires. They can see that Britain has no chance of being ready to use electric cars en masse in 2030 and are beginning to rebel. The Conservative Party should take note of public opinion and scrap this disastrous policy while it still can.’
An audit of the Government’s plans to achieve its 2030 target has found significant challenges which could hinder the switch to electric cars.
The rollout of public charging points has struggled to keep pace with the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs). As well as the high number of drivers scrapping over every public charger, monthly installations are behind where they need to be to hit the 300,000 target by 2030.
In addition, the cost of buying and running an EV is still prohibitive for many. Electric models cost around £10,000 more than petrol equivalents, and a full recharge on a public point can be more expensive than a tank of petrol.
Many motorists also continue to be put off buying an EV due to ‘range anxiety’, with research finding the distance travelled on a single charge can be nearly 20 per cent lower than advertised.
Perhaps most damaging, however, could be the threat to jobs and livelihoods. Britain has fallen far behind the rest of the world when it comes to the manufacture of the batteries needed to power electric cars, leaving it heavily reliant on imports from the dominant Asian market.
Many industry insiders fear that the 800,000 jobs in the UK associated with the car industry could be under threat.
Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith expressed concern that the ‘artificial deadline’ of 2030 had become akin to ‘some kind of peculiar religion’ among ministers. He warned: ‘We are literally refusing to accept reality. Reality means that if we want to keep a UK industry, the industry needs time to get itself across this line and it is not ready yet.’
Tory MP Greg Smith said the ban was a ‘massive step in the wrong direction’ and accused the Government of ‘putting all their eggs’ in the EV basket. Howard Cox, of campaign group FairFuelUK, said: ‘This virtue-signalling ban… will cost at least five times any alleged environmental benefits and every household £1,000 per year to 2050.
‘What’s the point of bankrupting the economy for an unattainable green idealism?’
The Department for Transport said: ‘Our commitment to phasing out new petrol and diesel by 2030 will not only lower emissions, but also provide certainty to industry and put us ahead of our European competitors – increasing the availability charge points and bringing down the cost of EVs.’