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.

    In September 2023, the UK Government’s ban on new petrol and diesel cars and vans was postponed from 2030 to 2035. 

    Rishi Sunak, the UK Prime Minister, said that this extension allows the British public greater opportunity to purchase zero-emission vehicles such as electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell models, labelling his decision “pragmatic, proportionate, and realistic”. He cited the cost-of-living crisis as the main reason behind the deferral.

    What is the reason for the 2035 ban?

    Petrol and diesel vehicles emit carbon dioxide (CO2), and the UK has set a legal mandate to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The 2035 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. 

    In particular, diesel vehicles release elevated levels of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. These are linked to an increased risk of respiratory ailments, lung cancer, heart diseases, and various other health conditions. 

    In a report issued by the Royal College of Physicians, it was found that traffic exhaust fumes have been responsible for the premature deaths of an estimated 40,000 people in the UK.

    Harmful emissions can be lessened through the use of modern exhaust systems and add-ons such as AdBlue. However, even with assistance, electric vehicles still massively outshine petrol and diesel cars in terms of environmental impact. 

    Electric cars generate zero emissions at the point of use, except for particles originating from tyre and brake wear. The environmental footprint of electric vehicles can be further reduced when they are produced and charged using energy harnessed from renewable sources such as 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?

    The Government has not clarified whether hybrid vehicles will still be able to be sold from 2035 for a further five years, as in the original phase-out plan for 2030. At the beginning of 2024, 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 had previously stated that only hybrids capable of travelling a substantial distance without emitting carbon 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 time of writing, nothing has been confirmed 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?

    Yes. The ban solely applies to the sale of new vehicles, so you will still be able to purchase and sell used petrol and diesel engine cars 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 market price of pre-owned petrol, diesel, and hybrid cars is expected to fall due to a decrease in demand – especially as cities beyond London adopt Clean Air Zones in line with the capital. 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. 

    The average lifespan of a car is about 14 years. This means that new petrol and diesel cars purchased in the latter end of 2034 could feasibly remain on the roads until at least 2048. 

    However, there could be further changes to running costs based on road tax (VED) rates, or other new policies introduced. 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. 

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

    Yes. However, converting a petrol or diesel car to pure electric is expensive – ranging from £20,000 to £60,000 and may 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 contracts expire.

    Are there any financial incentives to buying an EV?

    Not anymore. The previous £1,500 Plug-in Car Grant that ran between 2011 and 2022 has since been discontinued. 

    However, there are still other financial incentives for purchasing an EV. Benefits for pure-electric car owners include zero road tax (until 2025), exemption from London’s 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.

    As pointed out by the former UK Transport Minister, Trudy Harrison, while EVs have a higher initial purchase price, the potential saving in running costs and expenses associated with combustion-engine cars would surpass the £1,500 grant. 

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

    Will electric car running costs increase?

    Currently, there is a £35 billion taxation gap from the adoption of electric vehicles, which are exempt from fuel duty and vehicle excise duty until 2025. While it is hard to predict any increased EV-specific costs, there have been key areas highlighted to mitigate this taxation gap:

    • The proposed expansion of all toll roads 
    • Proposed schemes such as a pay-per-mile road pricing system. 

    In February 2022, the cross-party Transport Select Committee indicated the proposed pay-per-mile system would rely on satellite-linked trackers installed in every vehicle to accrue fees based on how far people were driving. This raised significant privacy concerns, and caused road advocacy groups such as the AA and RAC to express apprehension surrounding an unfair skew in charges faced by those who live in rural areas compared to those in urban areas. 

    With it being assumed that rural inhabitants have to cover longer distances, the AA put forward the idea of granting ‘Road Mile’ credits to residents in more remote regions. They stressed the importance of ensuring that any proposed system maintains equity to prevent unintended consequences.

    Older cars that are not ULEZ-compliant are typically less fuel-efficient, as well as higher polluting. As we approach the 2035 electric switchover and work towards net zero emission goals, it’s possible that traditional fuels like petrol and diesel will become subject to higher taxes and tariffs in the future. 

    Driving a ULEZ non-compliant vehicle could end up meaning much higher fuel costs over the next few years. By checking your compliance now, for free, you can be assured that your engine is deemed to be efficient enough to not get charged in most CAZs. However, it will be worth keeping an eye on the running costs versus electric cars as we progress through the 2020s.

    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.