Britain will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars starting in 2040 as part of a plan to get them off the roads altogether 10 years later, environment minister Michael Gove said on Wednesday this week.
The UK has been under pressure to take measures to reduce air pollution after losing legal cases brought by campaign groups. The decision is partly brought on by stringent European Union emission rules that the UK must follow even as it is set to leave the bloc.
Ahead of the June general election, the governing Conservatives pledged to make “almost every car and van” zero-emission by 2050.
The move comes as the UK plans to invest more than 800 million pounds ($1 billion) in driverless and zero-emission technology as part of its post-Brexit industrial strategy. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy outlined plans to invest 246 million pounds in battery technology research earlier this week. BMW said on Tuesday it will build an electric version of its Mini car in Britain.
The global shift toward electric vehicles will create upheaval for industry – from oil majors harmed by reduced gasoline demand to spark plug and fuel injection manufacturers whose products aren’t needed by plug-in cars.
Car manufacturers are already adapting to the new reality. Earlier this month, Volvo became the first major traditional automaker to set a date for phasing out vehicles powered solely by the internal combustion engine by saying all its new models launched after 2019 will be electric or hybrids.