UK going electric in 2040, with ban on petrol and diesel cars

26 Jul 2017

Image: cla78/Shutterstock

The automotive industry is heading down an electric, probably autonomous road, with UK officials signalling 2040 as the end date for today’s cars.

Hot on the heels of France’s decision to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040, the UK has announced plans to do likewise.

This includes hybrid vehicles, too, meaning that there is just over two decades to develop electric vehicles (EVs) suitable to replace millions of standard vehicles on UK roads.

Future Human

Add to this the effect of the impending strain that an explosion of EVs onto the roads will bring to energy grids, and it means there’s an awful lot of work required from both public and private bodies.

UK officials said that the overall plan is to eliminate diesel and petrol cars entirely within 10 years of this sales ban.

The UK’s move is not entirely based on automobiles, either, as it has been on the sharp end of growing air pollution criticisms and legal cases in recent months.

It’s the second major EU country to announce plans such as this, though cities such as Paris, Madrid and Athens have all decided to ban diesel vehicles, in particular, by 2025.

“Today we are confirming that that means there should be no new diesel or petrol vehicles by 2040,” said Michael Gove, the UK’s environment minister.

Clean up your act

A new study from Imperial College London recently suggested that diesel fumes trigger respiratory reflexes, which could potentially worsen underlying conditions, such as asthma.

Published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the report claims that by-products from burning diesel fuel – called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – directly stimulate nerves in the lungs, causing a reflex response in the airways.

Prof Maria Belvisi, one of the authors of the study, said: “In major European cities like London, we are already exceeding the recommended levels of air pollution, and these findings provide another reason why we need to curb these levels.”

So, today’s decision to ban diesel and petrol vehicle sales by 2040 is part of a wider approach to clean up the UK’s city air quality.

A government spokesperson said: “Poor air quality is the biggest environmental risk to public health in the UK and this government is determined to take strong action in the shortest time possible.

“That is why we are providing councils with new funding to accelerate development of local plans, as part of an ambitious £3bn programme to clean up dirty air around our roads.”

These plans include the potential restriction of certain vehicles on particularly polluted streets.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic