The 2035 ban on new petrol and diesel cars – the ultimate guide

    The UK Government’s planned ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030 has now been pushed back to 2035.

    UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has stated that this extended transition will provide the British public with greater opportunity to purchase zero-emission vehicles, such as electric vehicles (EVs) and hydrogen fuel cell models.

    The date of the electric switchover has evolved over time. In 2017, the UK government initially proposed 2040 as the date for moving to zero emissions. However, this was criticised as ‘vague and unambitious’ by The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee. Accordingly, in 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson accelerated the timeline to 2030.  

    However, in September 2023, Johnson’s successor Rishi Sunak pushed this date back by five years. Calling his decision to do so “pragmatic, proportionate, and realistic”, and citing the need to alleviate the financial strain on motorists during the cost-of-living crisis as the reason.

    If you want to learn more about the 2035 ban on new petrol and diesel cars, here is everything you need to know:

    What is the reason for the 2035 ban?

    The ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles is expected to have several beneficial outcomes, including a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and an enhancement in local air quality. Petrol and diesel-powered vehicles are known to emit carbon dioxide (CO2), and the UK has set a legal mandate to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

    Diesel vehicles, in particular, release elevated levels of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter into the atmosphere, both of which have been linked to an increased risk of respiratory ailments, lung cancer, heart diseases, and various other health conditions. According to a report issued by the Royal College of Physicians, traffic exhaust fumes have been responsible for the premature deaths of an estimated 40,000 people in the UK.

    These harmful emissions can be mitigated through the use of modern exhaust systems and additives, such as AdBlue. However, EVs outshine their fossil fuel counterparts in terms of environmental impact. Electric cars generate zero emissions at the point of use, except for particles originating from tyre and brake wear. Furthermore, the environmental footprint of electric vehicles is further reduced when they are produced and charged using energy harnessed from renewable sources like wind and solar power.

    The EU made an announcement in 2022, indicating its intention to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles – also scheduled to take place in 2035.

    According to a report issued by the Royal College of Physicians, traffic exhaust fumes have been responsible for the premature deaths of an estimated 40,000 people in the UK.

    What are the rules around hybrid vehicles?

    Hybrids faced being banned from new car showrooms in 2035 – which was a delay of five years compared to the original target set for pure petrol and diesel vehicles. At the current moment, it remains uncertain how Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s postponement of restrictions on petrol and diesel vehicles will impact hybrid models.

    Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced previously that only hybrids capable of travelling a substantial distance without emitting carbon from the tailpipe would be allowed for sale between 2030 and 2035. This meant that mild hybrids would need to be phased out, and plug-in hybrid models would need to extend their electric driving range by 2030. However, at the current time, nothing has been stated about how the new 2035 date will play out for hybrids.

    Will I be able to buy a second-hand petrol or diesel car after 2035?

    The ban solely applies to the sale of new vehicles, so you will still be able to purchase and sell used cars with combustion engines after 2035.

    Are commercial vehicles included in the 2035 ban?

    Yes, the ban extends to diesel vans from 2035, with a phased-out approach for diesel lorries.

    What will happen to the resale values of petrol and diesel vehicles after 2035?

    The resale prices of conventional combustion engine cars are anticipated to decline due to diminishing demand, especially as cities beyond London adopt ultra-low emissions zones in line with the capital.

    As we approach the year 2035, it is predicted that the market values of pre-owned petrol, diesel, and hybrid automobiles will experience a significant decrease. This decline is likely to be exacerbated by manufacturers offering new models at substantial discounts during this period.

    Will I be forced to scrap my car before 2035?

    You won’t be required to scrap your existing petrol or diesel car in 2035. The ban on petrol and diesel cars applies exclusively to the sale of new vehicles powered by combustion engines. Existing cars will continue to be legally owned and drivable. Given that the typical lifespan of a car is around 14 years, new petrol and diesel cars purchased in the latter part of 2034 could potentially remain in circulation on the roads until at least 2048.

    However, the situation beyond that point becomes more uncertain. The government’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 entails eliminating carbon dioxide emissions across all sectors, which presents a challenge when it comes to combustion engine cars in the future.

    What will happen to classic cars post-2035?

    There’s no indication that classic cars powered by traditional engines will be forced off the road by 2035. However, e-fuels or electric conversions might offer alternatives for classic car owners.

    Can I convert my petrol or diesel car to pure electric?

    Yes. However, converting a petrol or diesel car to pure electric is costly – ranging from £20,000 to £60,000. It may also impact insurance rates.

    How will the 2035 switchover affect my car finance?

    Existing car finance agreements remain valid for their duration, including guaranteed minimum future values. However, incentives to switch to electric models may be offered when existing leases expire.

    Are there any financial incentives to buying an EV?

    Not anymore – at least, not directly. In June 2022, the government announced the discontinuation of the £1,500 Plug-in Car Grant, an incentive that had been in place since 2011.

    Although the initial purchase costs of electric vehicles remain higher than those of traditional petrol and diesel models, the former Transport Minister, Trudy Harrison, emphasised that the potential savings in operating expenses when switching to an electric vehicle would surpass the £1,500 grant.

    However, there are still other financial incentives for transitioning to electric vehicles. Pure-electric car owners enjoy several benefits, including zero Vehicle Excise Duty (commonly referred to as road tax), exemption from the London Congestion Charge and ULEZ fees, reduced servicing and maintenance costs, and the advantage of lower per-mile electricity costs compared to petrol and diesel. Company car drivers also enjoy significant savings through reduced ‘Benefit in Kind’ taxation.

    It is essential to stay informed and prepared for the changing landscape of transportation.

    Will electric car running costs increase?

    The government is actively seeking solutions to address a £35 billion taxation gap resulting from the increasing adoption of electric vehicles, which are exempt from fuel duty and vehicle excise duty.

    One proposed measure to mitigate this revenue shortfall is the expansion of toll roads as a means of generating additional road tax revenue.

    In February 2022, the cross-party Transport Select Committee urgently recommended the introduction of a pay-per-mile road pricing system to address this substantial budget deficit. The committee suggested that such a system should rely on satellite-linked trackers installed in every vehicle, a concept that raises significant privacy concerns.

    Road advocacy groups like the AA and RAC have expressed apprehension about the potential negative impact on individuals residing in rural areas – as they will be compelled to cover longer distances compared to those in urban areas. The AA has put forth the idea of granting ‘Road Mile’ credits to residents in more remote regions as a possible solution and stressed the importance of ensuring that any proposed system maintains equity to prevent unintended consequences.

    While the ban on petrol and diesel cars is imminent, the transition will bring various challenges and opportunities for both consumers and the automotive industry.

    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.