Boris Johnson confirmed yesterday that new petrol and diesel car sales will end in 2030 as part of his 10-point agenda for a ‘Green Industrial Revolution’.
The accelerated deadline – which had previously been set at 2040 – is part of the Prime Minister’s bid to push motorists into cleaner electric vehicles.
To aid the transition, drivers will still be able to purchase new hybrid cars until 2035, but only those that can ‘drive a significant distance without emitting carbon’.
With three different types of hybrid vehicles on sale, the Government says it will launch a consultation to define which versions will remain in showrooms beyond 2030.
Hybrid ban still up for debate: The government has confirmed there will be a consultation next year to determine which hybrid cars can be ‘driven a significant distance without emitting carbon’
Hybrids are seen as a stepping-stone between combustion engine cars and pure electric vehicles.
They combine both a petrol (or diesel) engine with an electric motor and battery.
However, there are different types of hybrids – and the government is yet to clarify which will be eligible to be sold new beyond 2030.
When the government outlined its ‘Road to Zero’ strategy in 2018, including a ban on new petrol and diesel cars from 2040, it said only hybrid cars ‘capable of covering 50 miles or more’ using electric power alone would remain on sale beyond the deadline.
At the time, 98 per cent of all hybrid cars on sale failed to meet that criteria.
It remains unclear if the same 50-mile rule will be used for the accelerated ban starting in nine years’ time.
The vagueness of the Prime Minister’s announcement surrounding the rules for hybrids had led many to assume that only new plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) would be sold until 2035.
By the end of October, just 50,00 new PHEVs have been registered in the UK so far in 2020 – just 3.6 per cent of all new cars bought. That compares to 790,000 petrol cars and 230,000 diesels.
Current PHEVs on sale – like the Mitsubishi Outlander that Mr Johnson drove at the launch in Tokyo in 2015 when he was mayor of London – can be driven between around 20 and 55 miles using electric power.
Boris Johnson pictured in 2015, when the PM was mayor of London, driving the just-released Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid SUV at its official launch in Tokyo
Plug-in hybrid cars have much longer electric-only driving ranges than conventional hybrids that cannot be plugged into the grid to replenish their onboard batteries
Sales of both PHEVs and HEVs have increased in 2020 compared with a year ago, though only make up 3.6% and 6.9% of all new car registrations in the UK
However, the Department for Transport and Office for Low Emissions Vehicles have suggested that conventional hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) – which the government terms ‘full hybrids’ – could also be sold beyond 2030.
Almost twice as many HEVs have been sold compared to PHEVs so far in 2020, with 95,000 registered by the end of October. That still represents just 6.9 per cent of all new cars purchased in the UK.
While they might currently be more popular than PHEVs, the electric-only driving range of HEVs pale in comparison.
Because they have smaller batteries, cannot be plugged into the grid to fully replenish battery capacity and rely on regenerative systems built into the vehicle to charge, they provide only a matter of miles of zero-emission range before the petrol engine needs to take over.
Despite this, the government has given itself an undetermined window of time to decide if sales of conventional hybrids should continue alongside plug-in versions until the later 2035 deadline.
‘Between 2030 and 2035, new cars and vans can be sold if they have the capability to drive a significant distance with zero emissions (for example, plug-in hybrids or full hybrids), and this will be defined through consultation,’ the DfT clarified.
The results of the consultation will not be published until next year.
Toyota produces the hybrid-only Corolla family hatchback at its Brunaston plant in Derbyshire
The Japanese maker has previously said that it would reconsider future investments in its UK plant if sales of new HEVs were to be outlawed
Influential UK car makers are backing hybrid vehicles
Mr Johnson’s hesitance to rule-out HEVs is most likely influenced by the number of UK car makers producing these conventional hybrid vehicles.
Toyota, which produces the hybrid Corolla hatchback in Derbyshire has previously said it would reconsider future investments in its UK plant in Buranston if sales of new HEVs were to be outlawed.
Last year, Toyota also agreed a deal to produce hybrid Suzuki models at the UK site.
Nissan has also confirmed in the last week that the new Qashqai e-Power hybrid will be built at its Sunderland factory alongside the fully-electric Leaf.
Like the Toyota Corolla, the Qashqai will be a conventional hybrid only. No plug-in hybrid or fully-electric version is planned, with Nissan producing its similarly-sized Ariya electric SUV in its home nation of Japan.
The Department for International Trade this week buoyantly tweeted the news that the Qashqai e-Power will be produced in the UK, though incorrectly referred to it as an electric car and not a hybrid.
Nissan has in the last week confirmed the hybrid version of the all-new Qashqai will be built at the Sunderland factory next year. There will be no plug-in hybrid or fully-electric variant
Nissan Sunderland is the biggest single car factory in the UK. The Department for International Trade celebrated the news that the new Qashqai e-Power will be built in the UK via Twitter, but incorrectly referenced to it as an electric car and not a conventional hybrid
Gerry Keaney, chief executive at the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, said it is important for the government to clarify which types of hybrids will remain on sale until 2035 as they will provide ‘an essential lifeline for those facing a greater zero-emission challenge’.
He added: ‘Vehicle rental companies and van fleet operators will be very relieved to have this additional breathing space but will need clarity on exactly what types of hybrid are in scope.’
What is 100 per cent concrete is that mild-hybrid electric vehicles (MHEV) will be banned from 2030.
These cars have a very small battery and motor-generator – usually no bigger than 48 volts – to supplement the combustion engine under the bonnet but at no point power the wheels independent of the petrol or diesel powerplant.
Jaguar Land Rover is already producing plug-in hybrid versions of both the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport at the company’s Halewood plant in the UK.
‘More than 1,500 employees have been retrained to build the latest electrified variants of the ever-popular compact SUV,’ the UK’s biggest car maker announced in April.
JLR’s first plug-in hybrid, the Range Rover Sport P400e, has been produced at the Solihull factory since 2017, where it also makes a PHEV version of the Velar SUV.
It also produces mild-hybrid versions of products across its range of both Jaguar and Land Rover cars.
Different types of hybrid cars explained
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)
Also referred to as: Plug-in hybrids
Banned in: 2035
Example models: Ford Kuga PHEV, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Volkswagen Golf GTE, BMW 330e, Peugeot 508 PHEV.
Plug-in Hybrids are seen as the stepping stone between petrol and diesel cars we’ve always known and battery electric vehicles.
They use an internal combustion engine – usually petrol – and an onboard battery and electric motor(s).
The battery can be charged to full capacity by plugging the vehicle into the mains or a charging device, though these cars also have energy regenerating brakes and systems that help to trickle a little extra capacity to the battery on the move.
The battery pack is not as large as that in a BEV, though when fully charged can provide anywhere between 25 and 55 miles of range using just electric power and the petrol or diesel engine not having to be used.
When the Prime Minister says ‘hybrid vehicles than can drive a significant distance without emitting carbon’ will be on sale until 2035, these are the models he is most likely referring to.
Charging times are shorter than BEVs, too.
For longer journeys – or any trip where you’ve used up to electric driving capacity – the vehicle will become reliant on the petrol or diesel engine to take you to your destination.
Though regenerative systems will continue to slowly replenish the battery you drive, so you will benefit from a little extra electric range.
Ministers are reportedly set to implement a ban of 2035 on this type of hybrid vehicle due to their capacity to be driven more than the daily average journey using only electric power.
However, some green campaigners say PHEVs are dirtier than other vehicles, as they produce higher emissions levels when owners fail to charge them regularly.
This is because the petrol or diesel engine needs to work harder to carry the bulk of the battery.
Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)
Also referred to as: Hybrids, conventional hybrid, self-charging hybrid
Banned in: unconfirmed (could be 2030 or 2035 depending on the result of the government’s consultation)
Example models: Toyota Corolla, Nissan Qashqai e-Power, Lexus RX 450h.
A Hybrid Electric Vehicle shares the same concept as a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle in that it has an onboard battery and electric motor to supplement a petrol or diesel engine.
However, it can’t be plugged in to be charged, so all of the electric power is generated by the movement of the vehicle.
Batteries are far smaller than those in BEVs and PHEVs for this reason and can only usually provide a handful of miles of range using electric power only.
They’re often referred to as conventional hybrids as they were introduced to the market ahead of PHEVs, with the Toyota Prius being the most reknowned model.
Toyota and sister brand Lexus often refer to them as ‘self-charging’ hybrid vehicles, which is misleading if it fails to acknowledge that their electric-only ranges are much less than PHEVs.
The Prime Minister has failed to clarify which hybrids will be banned alongside petrols and diesels from 2030 based on the ‘significant distance using electric power’ quote previously mentioned.
The Office for Low Emissions Vehicles (OLEV) has confirmed that clarification will be found as a result of a government consultation – and we won’t get a definitive answer on it until next year.
Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle (MHEV)
Also referred to as: Mild hybrids, Light hybrids
Banned in: 2030
Example models: Suzuki Ignis SHVS, Jaguar E-Pace MHEV, Ford Fiesta EcoBoost Hybrid.
One of the most confusing recent terms introduced to the sector is the Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle.
These are claimed to sit between a petrol or diesel car and a Hybrid Electric Vehicle and are becoming more common as manufacturers announce new models and updates to their ranges.
While they do have some electric capacity, to use the term ‘hybrid’ does muddy the waters.
They have a very small battery and motor-generator – usually no bigger than 48 volts – to supplement the combustion engine under the bonnet.
However, the big difference is that the battery and motor do not provide all-electric propulsion at any time whatsoever.
Instead, the motor-generator uses stored electricity to supply additional torque to the engine, boosting its output without burning additional fuel to make the combustion engine more efficient.
Some mild hybrids also use the generator to enable the car’s engine to be turned off for up to 40 seconds when coasting, automatically restarting when acceleration is called for.
This is said to offer greater fuel-economy from a petrol or diesel engine.
Because they cannot be driven entirely under electric power, ministers will banish new version from sale in 2030 along with petrol and diesel cars.