Uk is going to stop sales of gas and diesel cars by 2040 (Now 2030)

Was reading this article and thought it would make an interesting discussion:

So, do you think they can do it? Partly this seems like the professor’s comments about steam engines are correct in that time frame, but partly it seems pretty ambitious to set a drop dead date like this for all gas and diesel engines. I tend to think that we will have a paradigm shift before this, but that it might take time to sort out the market between the next system and the current one.

I thought this was interesting:

:eek: That’s a lot of deaths, especially in London alone. I wonder where they are getting the stats for that. I guess I didn’t realize London was still having this issue…when I’ve visited in the past the city LOOKS a lot cleaner than it did when I visited in the 70’s.

At any rate, for debate is do you think they can do it and is this a good idea to set a goal like this even though a viable and scalable alternative doesn’t exist…yet? Will this potentially drive such a change, or will this end up hurting more than it helps?

I’m not sure an outright ban is the right way to go, even with such a long time frame. It’d be better to build up the infrastructure that electric and fuel-cell cars need. Perhaps paid by increased gasoline and diesel taxes.

Tighter standards on tail-pipe emissions would help too. If I remember correctly, diesel fuel over there has substantially more sulfur than it does in the US. And fuel can be reformulated to reduce emissions, similar to what California does.

France has also set the same deadline of 2040 for ending the sale of gasoline and diesel cars. And Volvo said that starting in 2019, all of its new cars would be either fully electric or hybrid.

2040 is so long away, this just comes off as political grandstanding. The politicians that make this policy will have long since retired, and if it’s not going to work some other politician has to deal with the fallout (or revert the policy).

It’s a meaningless gesture, albeit in the direction I agree with, but on too long a timeframe to have any real impact. It’ll either get repealed in 2039 if it’s not working out, or it will be long since moot by then.

Seems pretty ambitious. A 23 year timeline?

If it were up to me and I wanted to phase out gas and diesel cars I’d instead start drastically increasing petrol and diesel taxes on a planned schedule such that by 2040 you’d have to be an idiot to buy a conventional vehicle. And if a small cadre of rich idiots want to pay the tax, fine with me.

Looking at this, I just read an article on the Telegraph that they do not have anywhere close to enough electrical capacity to handle all the cars being electric.

And what is not mentioned is the tax they would lose from taxing petrol. 61.5% of a liter of petrol is tax. On a car with a 15 gallon capacity, in USD, it would cost $96.87 to fill the tank, of that $59 is tax. That tax will have to be made up somewhere, I guess they will start taxing electricity higher.

Forcing such things does not work out as well in reality as it does on paper.

I pretty much agree that this “ban” in itself is unlikely to be effective. If we’re approaching 2040 and we still have enough sales of gasoline cars to make such a ban disruptive then I don’t think the political will to cause that disruption will exist, and we’ll find the ban being delayed or scrapped. On the other hand if market forces or other regulations or incentives along the way have reduced gas cars to a negligible percentage of the total then the ban can be enforced and might not even make the front pages.

I think if you want to speed things along you need shorter term incentives (tax breaks, subsidies into research or electric vehicle purchases, etc.).

That said, I don’t think that announcements like this are completely useless. They signal a goal or intention. Whether that signal is actually a signal and not just noise depends on other more short term actions that may or may not be taken.

I sort of feel the same way about the Paris accord. The US actions are hugely disappointing to me, but I’m encouraged by the momentum that exists outside of federal policy. It seems that we’ve reached a point where market forces themselves may push us more quickly to renewable energy then any long term “commitments” would. Withdrawing from the accord still serves as a signal, although I think that signal comes too late and might just be “the US isn’t as relevant as it used to be, you can’t trust or count on it, other countries need to take charge more aggressively”.

The thing I find interesting about this is that they’re not just planning to cut off sales of the cars, they’re planning to cut off sales of gas. The mere threat of that will depress sales of gas burning cars, moreso as the deadline approaches, since if they cut off sales of gas your car will suddenly become a very large paperweight. I imagine this effect will gradually amp up over the course of the decades, as more and more people grow leery of buying a vehicle with no future and no resale value, to the point of effectively pressuring the market to meet the demand for alternatives. I also think that doing this 23 years out is about right - doing it ten years out would be scary and doing it five years out would probably lead to public revolt. This way it can sort of lurk in the background, quietly exerting its pressure on the market from the background while simultaneously letting people slowly get used to the idea that their current cars are doomed. 23 years also allows time for the first wave of alternatives to get old and enter the used car market, becoming available to the lower class. And all these effects will happen even if it is canceled a year before the deadline.


Honestly, I suspect that by 2040, market forces would have made internal-combustion cars nearly nonexistant anyway.

I am waiting for the announcement of funds for upgrading the electricity grid to provide all the charging points needed support electric vehicles. It is also possible for the grid to use connected car batteries for storage of power that is currently wasted when renewable sources like wind and solar generate power at times when it is not needed. All of this requires a big investment that co-ordinates with national energy policy.

Every developed economy is going to have to deal with the same challenges and they are all looking over their shoulders, seeing what the neighbours are doing. The technology to do this is still immature. Current electricity grids have very little storage capacity.

The UK Government has also announced plans to put more money into research into battery technology.

These sorts of announcements are useful in that they give direction to industry to make investments to service these markets. The Government needs to provide the infrastructure, the regulatory environment and funding for research.

Whether the UK has got the balance right is too early to say. One thing is for sure, the decision to encourage the use of diesel in the 1990s is clearly regarded as a huge policy mistake. It reduced CO2, but increased other pollutants that are creating a significant public health hazard. That, combined with the VW car emissions scandal is making governments keen to steer the motor industry away from the internal combustion engines. This sort of announcement is a clear signal and several other governments are making similar noises.

The big question is: how fast are EVs going to take over from internal combustion engines and can the supporting infrastructure be upgraded fast enough? The technology has a long way to go and important markets like commercial trucks have few EV options. Cars tend to get all the attention.

I don’t know how realistic the deadline is, but I like this idea. I think the UK could do it. While a car can last decades, I don’t think there will be many vehicles bought today that are still running in the year 2040.

People will likely bitterly complain about how expensive electric vehicles are compared to gas vehicles in other countries, though with technological progress that might not be an issue in over two decades.

I also like that the UK is focusing on air quality in general and not just one or two pollutants.

OK, you’ve got my attention. Can you elaborate on what those market forces are? I’m genuinely curious.

The first thing that occurred to me about his proposal is that it would be an easier sell in the UK than somewhere like the US or Australia, because of the high population density,which should make it easier to put charging stations in sufficient places to cover the needs of the electric-car-using population.

The next thing that occurred was "hmm, what about Scotland? Not very densely populated up there, which must make electric vehicles harder to get off the ground (so to speak). Not to mention they make a lot of money off petrol. I could imagine them not being very happy about this decision.

How wrong I was

So - apparently in a UK context this is not considered particularly excessive, or even ahead of the pack.

Remember also that in the UK petrol is about twice as expensive as the US - I don’t know what running costs actually are on an electric vehicle, but I would have thought they’d be relatively low, leaving only the cost of buying it in the first place the major issue.

Where did you get that from? Banning the sale of new petrol/diesel engines is all I’ve heard, nothing about banning sale of the fuel itself. Seems like that would cause quite a bit of protest from vintage vehicle owners.

Note that this relates to the sale of new cars, so it could be another ten years before the last of the gas guzzlers are gone.

More to the point is the effect that this will have on the strategic planning for manufacturers. Volvo has already said that they are going electric; BMW are going to switch a major UK plant to produce electric Minis and, as has already been said, several other countries are introducing the same kind of legislation.

It could well be that once again, as with metrication, the USA gets left behind as the only major country that manufactures internal combustion engines.

Anyone know where their definition of “car” stops? Electrification works best for light vehicles. A pickup just needs too much battery, and I don’t think we’ll be seeing heavy trucking electrified.*

Fuel cells still need a lot of work, and rolling out am entirely new fuel infrastructure takes decades.

*Maybe for drayage

Seems totally doable to me, the main issue is voter outrage. But really it’s not hard. We’re not talking about a new technology, battery powered cars exist. It’s not like getting off fossil fuels, where the technology to make that possible given our current energy needs isn’t even on the horizon.

Unless you are saying that the cars will be inferior in every way and/or a lot more expensive than the gasoline/diesel alternatives the I’m not sure why you think this will be the case. Assuming that in this time frame a viable alternative that is scalable (i.e. you can actually make enough of them to replace the 100’s of millions of cars out there already and keep up with continued demand), has a close enough performance envelope and is reasonably affordable then Americans are just as likely to buy them as anyone else. It’s not like anyone is going to ban their import just so we can keep gas/diesel cars here.

Of course, conversely, if the cars are more expensive, less capable or not scalable, then that would mean that the UK has made a big mistake trying to legislate by fiat a market change, and I have my doubts that the US would then be the only country making gas/diesel cars in the future, even if we are the only market still out there buying them (which I also doubt).

23 years SOUNDS like a lot, but I don’t think the all electric cars today are in position for this, and not sure if they will be in 23 years. Fuel cells though…THAT might be very possible, as really what’s keeping them back is infrastructure. And a government pushing for those should be able to push the fueling industry to slowly start to put the hooks in for fuel cell vehicles on that time table…I think. Seems pretty ambitious though to me.

You need to bear in mind that the “banned by 2040” headline is actually the intended PR takeaway from the latest move in a long-running series of legal battles to get the government to produce a plan getting to grips with repeated failures to meet required air pollution standards now.

This latest plan supposedly includes a whole range of traffic control and similar measures largely aimed at getting local authorities to do the work, but as ever, the devil will be in the detail, and there are plenty of people saying it’s still too little, too late, and there isn’t enough money allocated to back it up: