The ban on gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles would have been enacted in 2030.
Just months after suggesting that the United Kingdom's ban on gasoline- and diesel-powered cars may not go ahead as planned, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced that the ban will be pushed back to 2035.
In a statement, Sunak said the extension has been implemented to give the country more time to transition to EVs. "You'll still be able to buy a combustion-engined vehicle until 2035."
The Prime Minister added that the government is working hard to make the UK a leader in electric vehicles and noted that the island nation has attracted billions in investments. BMW, for example, has invested more than $750 million into the Oxford-based Mini factories, where the new electric Cooper Hardtop 3-Door will be produced.
"I expect by 2030 the vast majority of cars sold will be electric because the costs are reducing, the range is improving, the charging infrastructure is growing," the PM said.
"I also think, at least for now, it should be you that makes that choice, not the government forcing you to do it. Because the upfront cost is high. We've got further to go to get the charging infrastructure in place," added Sunak.
Steve Reed, shadow environment secretary for the opposition Labour Party, criticized the delay and said Labour remained committed to keeping the 2030 ICE ban. Reed said that PM Sunak had "sold out the biggest economic opportunity of the 21st century."
However, comments from the automotive industry show support for the government's decision. Jaguar Land Rover called the delay "pragmatic," while Ford's UK Chair, Lisa Brankin, said, "We need policy focus trained on bolstering the EV market in the short term and supporting consumers while headwinds are strong. Infrastructure remains immature, tariffs loom, and cost of living is high."
The UK's combustion ban is part of the government's 2050 net-zero goal, but Sunak believes this can still be achieved without burdening the population with impractical policies. "The test should be: do we have the fairest credible path to reach net zero by 2050 in a way that brings people with us? Since I've been Prime Minister, I've examined our plans, and I don't think they meet that test."
Sunak also noted that existing gas- and diesel-powered vehicles would still be allowed to be sold as used vehicles after 2035, as the ban only applies to new cars.
The government is still considering implementing the so-called "Aston Martin exemption," which would give low-volume manufacturers extra time to switch to electric propulsion. The European Union has a similar concession for automakers selling fewer than 1,000 vehicles annually.