According to new clean-air plans that are being drawn up by the government, hybrid cars could be banned in the UK by 2040. Vehicles like the Toyota Prius, which is the UK’s best selling hybrid car, wouldn’t be considered “environmentally friendly” enough to be sold. This has been reported by three people briefed on the government’s plants to deal with emissions and air quality.
However, the exact wording is a matter of debate between several groups, with environment, business and transport departments all having a say on the final document. The plans are backed by environment secretary Michael Gove and business secretary Greg Clark. The transport secretary Chris Grayling is against the changes, with the Department for Transport dismissing the report on hybrid cars being banned.
“It is categorically untrue the government is planning to ban the sale of hybrid cars in the UK by 2040. We do not comment on leaked draft documents. The Road to Zero Strategy is yet to be finalised and has not been agreed by ministers.”
People who are for the ban have noted there isn’t a way to meet binding emissions targets without large reductions in road transport emissions. It’s possible they will cite the 2040 ban on petrol and diesel cars to cover hybrid vehicles as well.
Gareth-Redmond King, head of climate and energy at WWF has said that rising transport emissions means that the government needs to do more than the 2040 ban. “Transport is now the biggest source of carbon emissions. So if the UK wants to show global leadership and meet its Paris Agreement commitments, we need to be aiming for 100% electric vehicle sales by 2030, rather than arguing about hybrids. Bringing forward a phase-out petrol and diesel cars to 2030 would save 13 million tonnes of CO2, cut exhaust pollution by 30%, and support up to 100,000 manufacturing jobs in the UK.”
Conversely, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said the lack of clarity over plans could confuse buyers and that the ban is unrealistic. SMMT chief Mike Hawes gave his opinion. “Unrealistic targets and misleading messaging on bans will only undermine our efforts to realise this future, confusing consumers and wreaking havoc on the new car market and the thousands of jobs it supports. We cannot support ambition levels which do no appreciate how industry, the consumer or the market operate and which are based neither on fact or substance.”