Selling your car and the 2035 electric car switchover

    Updated 13th March 2024.

    In 2020, the UK government brought forward its ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars and vans from 2040 to 2030

    Despite the Committee on Climate Change advising that for the UK to meet its own decarbonisation goals, an outright ban on non-electric vehicles and hybrids needed to be implemented by 2032 at the latest, in September 2023, the switchover date back got delayed by five years. 

    In March 2021, only 7.7% of new cars sold in the UK were fully electric vehicles. However, in January 2024, the ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle) Mandate was introduced. This mandates car manufacturers to ensure that 22% of their new car sales in 2024 are zero emission (and 10% of van sales have to be zero emission), with an increasing percentage of EV sales required each year up to 100% in 2035. 

    Two EVs charging ahead of the 2030 electric switchover.
    Two electric cars charging ahead of the 2035 electric switchover

    Following protests from car manufacturers who have to meet the tight deadline, the government gave conventional hybrid models a ‘stay of execution’ until 2035. This is only if they are demonstrably capable of achieving a ‘significant’ zero-emission distance.

    The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) have suggested that the 2035 ban could cause a fall in the number of UK car sales. According to their projection, the number of cars being sold would likely drop from a projected 2.3 million in 2025 to only about 800,000 following the introduction of the 2035 ban.However, as the EU has now introduced stricter emissions rules, it has resulted in a rapid rise in sales in electric vehicles (EVs) across Europe, and this has seen manufacturers racing to design new, affordable zero-emission models.

    Many UK drivers will switch to electric cars before 2030.
    Many UK drivers will switch to electric cars before 2035

    In this ultimate guide to the selling your car and the 2035 electric switchover, we’ll look at the following:

    What does the 2035 switchover mean for drivers with ICE cars?

    With the 2035 electric switchover on the horizon, what will this mean for you if you have a car or van with a traditional petrol or diesel internal combustion engine?

    The ban is still a decade away, so it probably won’t affect you too much in the short term. Additionally, the ban is only concerned with the sale of new ICE cars – so, you will still be able to buy used petrol and diesel cars after 2035.

    As the ban draws closer, car manufacturers will be concentrating on bringing more fully-electric models to the market. This will mean a reduction in demand for petrol and diesel models; and prices on any unsold new petrol and diesel cars and vans will most likely drop.

    It is also likely that – as switchover nears – there will be a range of new incentive schemes brought in, in an effort to encourage drivers to choose electric.                  

    What will the 2035 switchover mean for the price of diesel and petrol vehicles?

    With the government supporting the use of EVs through incentives, the running costs of using petrol, diesel and hybrid cars are expected to increase – and these vehicles are likely to experience a corresponding decline in value.

    This drop in value will be good news for first-time drivers looking to pick up a cheap run-around, but for those wishing to sell their ICE cars, they will find that they are subject to much steeper depreciation than normal – and, consequently, a poor return when selling.

    Will electric car sales begin to dominate the new car market?

    New electric vehicle sales in the UK will inevitably continue to rise exponentially over the next decade. In 2020, nearly a fifth of all cars registered (17.5%) were zero-emissions capable – up from just 7.4% the previous year. However, according to research by the British automotive services company RAC, the price of EVs is still a barrier for most people.

    However, the cost of lithium-ion batteries – traditionally the most expensive components of electric vehicles – have seen a dramatic fall in price in recent years. Energy sector researchers Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) maintain that the drop in lithium-ion battery pack prices between 2010 and 2019 was a huge 87%.

    If this trend continues, EVs should reach price parity with new ICE vehicles sometime between 2025 and 2029 – just ahead of the UK’s electric switchover. At this point, EV sales are expected to explode in volume as electrics become the cheaper new auto purchase option.

    How long before electric vehicles dominate the used car market?

    With the push towards cleaner, more sustainable energy becoming more urgent, and the EV technology rapidly developing and becoming more affordable each year, the popularity of ICE motors is likely to fall well before 2035. 

    Recent research published in the Journal of Applied Energy has also shown that electric cars are now cheaper to run than petrol and diesel cars– and can outperform them too.

    With the popularity, performance, and range of EVs and hybrids on the rise, and ICE cars and vans being phased out, it is likely that in the next decade, they will begin to not only dominate new car sales – but also flood into the second-hand market. Creating more demand for those wanting to sell an electric car.

    Most UK drivers will be using electric charging points before the 2035 switchover.
    Most UK drivers will be using electric charging points before 2035

    Is now the right time to sell your petrol or diesel ICE car?

    The price of petrol and diesel fuel tax is predicted to increase as EVs become more widespread. 

    The headline rate on standard petrol and diesel is 52.95 pence per litre which has been frozen since 2011-12 and it reflects a temporary 5 pence cut in 2022-23 and 2023-24. Better fuel economy and the expected decline in new petrol and diesel engine car sales means an expected drop in revenue for the government. This means the amount of duty paid out by both petrol and diesel car owners when they refuel their cars will increase, regardless of the cost of the fuel itself.

    In the coming decades, as EVs come down in price and the running costs of ICE vehicles soar, the move towards an electric vehicle will become the natural choice for most drivers.

    Whilst the situation will certainly change within the next decade, if you are thinking of selling your ICE car, there’s no urgent reason to go ahead today. However, as the country marches rapidly towards a greener future, if you are looking to sell your petrol, diesel or hybrid car it might be best to switch over now – and get the best price for it whilst the ICE vehicle market remains buoyant.

    Ready to sell your car?

    Ready to learn more about valuing, maintaining, and selling your car? Check out more of our guides here, covering everything from hybrid and electric car depreciation, to converting your car to dual-LPG fuel. With 84% of Motorway customers getting more money, it’s never too soon to get your valuation.