AM Online

New 'conventional' petrol and diesel vehicles to be banned in 2040

Plug-in electric cars

The government has outlined plans for an outright ban on the sale of conventional petrol and diesel vehicles from 2040 as part of its Air Quality Plan for Nitrogen Dioxide.

The document, published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) will aim to force the shift to hybrid and zero-emissions vehicles as it bids to cut roadside emissions of NOx to meet stringent EU standards.

But car dealers’ hopes for a scrappage scheme to help usher motorists into newer, cleaner cars in the meantime have been put on hold to allow for further consultation.

Defra’s report said that evidence suggested a scrappage could be a poor use of taxpayer money, with motorists already able to upgrade their vehicles being the most likely beneficiaries.

Consultation on a scheme will be undertaken, however, with feedback expected to be gleaned from local authority’s research for their own air quality plans.

Local authorities are the focus of much of the clean air plan, with a requirement to produce a study of local air quality and a plan to reduce NOx levels, including charging zones or outright bans for certain vehicles.

The document states: “It is for local authorities to develop innovative local plans that will achieve statutory NO2 limit values within the shortest possible time.

“The UK government has identified Clean Air Zones that include charging as the measure it is able to model nationally which will achieve statutory NO2 limit values in towns and cities in the shortest possible time.”

In the short-term the government has committed £255m to an Implementation Fund, available to support local authorities to prepare their plans and deliver targeted action to improve air quality.

The funding will support the immediate work to conduct feasibility studies and develop and deliver local plans.


  • Has your car dealership experienced a slump in sales or enquiries for diesel cars in recent months? Share your views in AM's latest survey here:


The decision to consult over a scrappage scheme follows mention in May’s draft proposals had included a "targeted" car scrappage scheme, albeit in technical documents supporting the main consultation paper.

The proposed scheme could have facilitated the replacement of 15,000 Euro 1-5 diesel cars and Euro 1-3 petrol cars with EVs in 2019 with the help of an £8,000 grant.

Mike Hawes, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said an outright ban risks undermining the current market for new cars.

He said: “Much depends on the cost of these new technologies and how willing consumers are to adopt battery, plug in hybrid and hydrogen cars.

“We could undermine the UK’s successful automotive sector if we don’t allow enough time for the industry to adjust."

Dr Frederik Dahlmann, Warwick Business School assistant professor of global energy and researches the low carbon economy, said setting a clear long-term target provides industry with an indication over the direction of travel for how it should plan ahead.

Dahlmann said: "There is a good chance the market will have largely shifted towards EV vehicle before the deadline of 2040, other than specialist collector super cars and the classic car market."

However, Dahlmann said infrastructure investments would need to be adjusted to ensure a transition to EVs and hybrids is not “stopped in its tracks”.

Back in April the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had lodged an application with the High to postpone publication of its draft clean air plan until after the general election.

Defra had argued publishing it now would breach ‘purdah’ rules limiting Government announcements with political implications during the election period.

After campaign groups lobbied against the plan, however, the High Court ordered the draft plans to be published on May 9, five days after the local elections, but before the general election on June 8, after deciding that purdah was a convention only and did not override legal obligations to clean up the air.

Final measures had to be made clear by 31 July.

If you are not a registered user your comment will go to AM for approval before publishing. To avoid this requirement please register or login.

Login to comment


  • Edward Handley - 26/07/2017 16:11

    An amazing and exciting announcement I don't think! Given that most of the current crop of Ministers, shadow Ministers and MPs will be long gone from Parliament by 2040, and that nothing a Government says now is binding on future Governments, this is nothing more than a puff of exhaust smoke. Electric car technology is moving fast and little straws in the wind suggest that a big breakthrough in battery technology is on the way, so the manufacturers may well have stopped making vehicles with internal combustion engines long before 2040, but it will be because the market has changed and there is no demand for them, not because the Minister announced anything in the summer silly season of 2017. If we still need cars and vans with petrol or diesel engines in 2040 you can guarantee they will still be available, because if 90% of cars and vans are electric the air quality problem will not be caused by cars and vans, it will because power stations, railway engines, construction plant, aircraft and ships are churning out toxic emissions, just like they are now. When the Minister says he is banning toxic emissions from power stations, etc., by 2040 as well we might be getting somewhere. In the meantime its just more fake news!

  • Bob Dale - 26/07/2017 19:03

    Having been directly employed in the motor industry and its associated teaching/training for 45 years, I have now retired but still take an active interest in all aspects of automotive engineering and technology. I believe that there is a need for a transparent view of the whole emissions debate, if the general public are to be given informed choices about their vehicle purchases in the future. I have read recently, many comments, blogs and articles related to the “Dirty Diesel” perception that is being pushed upon us. It would appear that there is considerable ignorance as to the formation of NOx and indeed the biggest culprits. So first of all, lets dispel the myth that diesel is the only producer of NOx, as ANY form of combustion or heating of the air by ANY fuel/heat source to a temperature in excess of 1600 degrees Celsius produces NOx. As an example, experts estimate that around 8.6 million tonnes of NOx are produced by lightening strikes alone every year. Whilst I can see the concern about the concentration of NOx, (and other pollutants) in areas predominantly of high population and thus high traffic volumes, high density housing (with gas or oil fired boilers etc.) and often one or more high volume airports, all of which, contribute to the overall quantity of NOx (and other) emissions. The solution to the problem is not quite as simple as the ‘Headlines’ might suggest, and it cannot be just a ‘one hit wonder’ answer. Therefore, it is clear that proposed punitive tax increases and the banning of diesel cars will not make the problem go away, as there are many other culprits creating higher volumes of NOx that also need to be dealt with. There are those that argue that the way forward, is by the use of electric cars, and in an ideal world it probably is. However, until we can meet the domestic and commercial demand for electricity without the use of increased volumes of coal, oil and gas being burned, the additional burden to recharge millions of electric cars using even more fossil fuel, seems not so environmentally friendly, but may help to reduce local high levels of NOx and improve political voting. Perhaps the counter argument should be, that we all encourage motorists to buy newer highly frugal efficient diesel engine cars that will help to reduce the volume of fossil fuel actually burned, and fitted with dedicated exhaust gas after treatment systems to reduce or even eliminate NOx emissions. These are technologies that currently exist and are continually being developed and improved. If only other transport industries were as proactive!! Finally, consider an Airbus 320 twin-engine aircraft. It has a fuel consumption rate of around 695 gallons of fuel per hour, and estimates are that there are approx. 100,000 aircraft in the air at any one time globally. Using the Airbus as average size, that would mean that globally, aircraft are burning somewhere in the region of 69.5 million gallons of TAX FREE fuel every hour. Surely, a significant unchallenged contributor to global and local pollution, including high volumes of NOx. Are there any plans to ban the use of fossil fuels in Rail, Shipping and Aircraft?........I think NOT! And I am sure that all those who take the moral high ground on emissions, would not want to give up their flights to meetings, conventions and exotic holiday destinations!!

  • Terry Frost - 27/07/2017 09:41

    A few days ago the government announced a program to reduce peak electricity usage as we struggle to meet demand then last year Fuel Tax alone put £27 billion into the treasury that's without the Vat on the fuel then they want the population to switch to electric cars. looks like we are heading for a huge tax hike and blackouts and probably a charge of £70.00 for a 300 mile charge

  • Steve3 - 27/07/2017 17:30

    If it's left to local government to do their own thing it will be bedlam. There will be so many different schemes you will fall foul of one just by going from one city to the next. This is showing that the government doesn't know the solution and if fobbing it off to local councils, who in turn will take it as an opportunity to once again punish the motorist with fees or fines as a secondary concern to cleaning up the air in towns and cities.

  • Mark TT - 23/08/2017 10:55

    The simple answer is to move to hydrogen as the power source. Hydrogen can be produced in wholly environmental ways at low cost and in bulk. Hydrogen used to have to be stored at very low temperature of very high pressure, not any more, it can now be stored, transported and distributed at ambient temperature and pressure. The only 'road block' to introduction is the oil companies themselves. Shell are already working in the right direction, all the others will follow the inevitable once they have worked out how to profit from hydrogen supply and delivery. Recharging batteries simply moves the pollution from the roads to the power stations, if there are enough of them. The fact is, the UK can only just produce enough electrical power to keep industry in business and the lights on through the winter, there is simply not enough to charge millions of battery electric cars. The solution is Hydrogen Electric vehicles, no matter how much the various vested interests want it to be batteries. Hydrogen can be used an infinite number of times without degradation, there is no shortage of it and it can power fuel cells with virtually zero pollution, of any kind and, when the fuel cell is operating it delivers pure water to the environment.