News

News | Published October 19 2018

MPs call for zero emissions targets to be brought forward, with insight from JamVans 

MPs have called for plans to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars to be brought forward to 2032. The original plan, outlined by the government, was to ensure all cars are “effectively zero emission” by 2040 but a report by Parliament’s business and select committee has urged this to be brought forward by eight years. Prime minister Theresa May announced the 2040 target earlier this year. 


The report also slammed the existing plans for being “vague and unambitious” and also critiqued cuts to subsidies and a general lack of available charging points to support this transition towards electric vehicles.

In the initial statement accompanying these plans, the government said it aimed to make the UK “the best place in the world” to own an electric vehicle. The report from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee questioned this commitment however, stating that the government’s action has not matched their rhetoric. 

Key Facts
  • Government currently plans to make all cars zero emission by 2040
  • Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee have called for this to be brought forward to 2032
  • Subsidies for less-polluting vehicles set to be cut by £1000

The chairwoman of the committee, Rachel Reeves MP, stated that the government targets gave “little clarity or incentive to industry or the consumer to invest in electric cars.” The committee also added that “zero should mean zero” and called for the government to present “a clear, precise target for new sales of cars and vans to be truly zero emission by 2032.”

The chairwoman of the committee, Rachel Reeves MP, stated that the government targets gave “little clarity or incentive to industry or the consumer to invest in electric cars.” The committee also added that “zero should mean zero” and called for the government to present “a clear, precise target for new sales of cars and vans to be truly zero emission by 2032.”

Referring to the general lack of widespread charging stations, the report said the existing charging infrastructure gave rise to “range anxiety”: the anxiety of potential buyers of electric vehicles that they will not be able to access charging stations. They also criticised the government’s decision to leave the delivery of charging points to councils and private companies, adding that a “shared approach” was needed.

It also condemned the government for slashing the subsidy available for less-polluting vehicles, referring to this decision as “perverse.” The current subsidy stands at £4,500 but this is to be reduced to £3,500. The report stated that “incentives are required to encourage motorists to make the switch.”

The Road to Zero Strategy, outlined by the government, stated that it had planned for “almost every car and van” to be zero emission by 2050 in the UK. These plans, however, did not stipulate whether this included hybrid vehicles. To try and clear up this ambiguity, the government later confirmed that it had “no plans to ban any particular technology – like hybrids – as part of its strategy.”

The findings of the select committee have already been critiqued by a number of other organisations, including the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Responding to this recent report, they stated that it would be “nigh on impossible” to move the ban forward by the proposed eight years.  

Currently, electric cars make up only 0.6 per cent of all cars sold in the UK and hybrids that can be plugged in to charge make up only 1.6 per cent of the 31.5 million registered cars in the country.

Some European countries, such as Denmark and Germany, plan to enforce similar bans from 2030, ten years ahead of the UK.

The impact of this ban, and the increasing regulations concerning emissions, have been explored in various Parliamentary Review articles. A key element of this drive to lower emissions is the extension of the Ultra Low Emission Zone in London, designed to prevent high emission vehicles entering congested areas of the city. 

The Road to Zero Strategy, outlined by the government, stated that it had planned for “almost every car and van” to be zero emission by 2050 in the UK. These plans, however, did not stipulate whether this included hybrid vehicles. To try and clear up this ambiguity, the government later confirmed that it had “no plans to ban any particular technology – like hybrids – as part of its strategy.”

Jamvans, who featured in the Transport edition in September, spoke about their preparation for such legislation. Managing directors Justin Yates and Matt Williams wrote: “2019 will see the introduction of the new Ultra Low Emission Zone in London to tackle toxic air pollution. For us, this means that a state-of-the-art fleet is required: all engines must adhere, at least, to Euro 6 standards. For many businesses, this means a substantial cost if their fleets are ageing and out of date. Our fleet, however, has been kept up to date as part of our growth strategy, with some of our latest additions including the required Euro 6 engines. At a glance, this appears a costly exercise, but it is necessary to force the transport and automotive industries to change to ensure cleaner air for people living in London.”

They added that it “will establish higher-quality standards across our competition, and ensure a level playing field: those that choose not to invest and advance their businesses will be less able to drop their prices and undercut those that do.”