UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been compared to U.S. President Donald Trump in some respects. And yet environmental policy is one area in which their positions could not be more different.
One thing the two have in common is, perhaps, not delivering to automakers quite what they had wanted.
Johnson is expected to announce, in November at the start of the United Nations Climate Conference, called COP26, the most sweeping plan to make all new-car sales electric—or hydrogen fuel-cell. And Johnson will lay out some of that plan today, with nature documentarian David Attenborough in attendance.
In an official release the Johnson’s office, along with the UK Department for Transport, Department for Business, among other agencies, the plan includes a ban of the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars by 2035.
The official statement doesn’t mention plug-in hybrids, but Autocar and several other UK automotive publications are reporting that it will also ban those.
It’s radically stepped-up, both in terms of timeline and accepted technology. Under a previous plan, the ban would have been imposed for 2040, and hybrids and plug-in hybrids, if they met a certain efficiency/emissions requirement, would still be allowed beyond that.
BYD London double-decker bus
Both plans are likely to carry through with a scrappage scheme that would encourage owners to retire older IC vehicles earlier. But the sharp pivot away from favoring hybrids and plug-in hybrids over the long term in the UK is likely to change the strategy for the next decade for some automakers.
According to Autocar, fully electric vehicles made up just 1.6 percent of the new-car market in 2018, gasoline and diesel made up 90 percent of the market. Many of the electric vehicles are within London, where electric cars are favored for congestion-pricing exemptions and hybrids fell out of favor with the city’s carpool lanes in 2016.
“We want to go further than ever before. That’s why we are bringing forward our already ambitious target to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars to tackle climate change and reduce emissions,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
We’ll update this piece with more details on the plan as it’s released. Now just try to picture President Trump getting around the way that Boris Johnson famously has: by bicycle.