The question of when will all cars be electric in the UK is at the heart of the transformation we’re witnessing in the UK car industry. It’s a real paradigm shift largely fueled by growing environmental concerns and rapid advancements in technology.
In this article, we delve into the UK’s ambitious plans for EVs, the hurdles faced, and the timescale for switching the public to fully electric cars.
When will all cars be electric in the UK?
All new cars will be electric in the UK after 2035. The UK government originally announced that the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans will be banned by 2030 as part of the Green Industrial Revolution. However, in September 2023, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the ban had been pushed back to 2035 (despite cabinet minister Michael Gove reiterating that the 2030 deadline is immoveable 2 months earlier.)
It is likely that most cars will be electric in the UK much sooner than 2035, providing the infrastructure for EVs can be rolled out and the cost of EVs comes down.
The Electric Car 2035 law in the UK
Point 4 of the UK Government’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, outlines an ambitious strategy to accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles.
In a bid to simultaneously stimulate job growth, bolster British industry, reduce emissions, and improve air quality, the UK plans to stop the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2035.
The plan is backed by a substantial support package of £2.8 billion, affirming the government’s commitment to UK car manufacturing as a key industry sector, especially in the West Midlands, Wales, and the North.
With a strong EV manufacturing base, the UK government intends to invest up to £1 billion to support the electrification of UK vehicles and their supply chains, including the development of Gigafactories for large-scale battery production.
A £1.3 billion investment is planned to expedite the roll-out of charging infrastructure, focusing on rapid charge points on motorways and major roads, as well as on-street charging near homes and the continued encouragement of workplace charging stations.
This strategy is expected to generate around 40,000 new jobs by 2035 and attract about £3 billion of private investment. It’s also projected to lead to significant carbon savings, putting the UK on the right track to achieve its climate goals.
What happens to petrol cars after 2035?
The UK Government’s plan at this stage is to only ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035. However, this does not mean that petrol or diesel vehicles will suddenly disappear from the roads or become illegal to drive. Here’s what we know:
- Existing Petrol and diesel cars
Cars that are already on the road will not be affected by the ban. People will still be allowed to drive their petrol or diesel cars and trade them in the used car market.
Over time, however, as these vehicles age and become less efficient, and as more chargers are installed in UK homes and the cost of electric vehicles continues to decrease, it is likely that more and more people will choose to switch to electric vehicles.
- Maintenance and Repairs
Car service centres will continue to repair and maintain petrol and diesel cars. Mechanics will need to adapt their skills to cater to the increasing number of electric vehicles, they will need to learn how to MOT an electric car and understand the service requirements of these types of vehicles.
- Fuel Availability
Petrol stations will still exist and provide fuel for petrol and diesel cars, but the number might decrease over time as demand for petrol and diesel declines. Some stations may also add more electric charging points as the number of electric vehicles increases.
Will electric cars be mandatory in the UK?
No, the UK government has not made it mandatory to own an electric vehicle. After 2035 you won’t be able to buy a new petrol, diesel or hybrid car, but it doesn’t mean that you are required to own an electric vehicle. You can continue to use a petrol or diesel car, and you can still buy and sell old cars second-hand.
Will Hybrid cars be banned in 2035?
New hybrid cars will be banned in 2035, however you will still be able to buy and sell Hyrids on the second-hand car market after 2035.
When will Deseil HGVs be banned?
The UK government has announced plans to ban the sale of new diesel Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) by 2040. The ban’s timeline is designed to give industries and manufacturers sufficient time to adapt and innovate, with the ultimate goal of transitioning to the use of electric HGVs in the haulage sector by 2040.
Electric HGVs are more challenging to produce, given the size of the battery required, the limited range and the charging infrastructure. It would not be surprising if the 2040 date is moved back as we get closer to the deadline.
When will petrol stop being sold?
The UK government has not announced a specific date for when the sale of petrol will be entirely stopped. There will still be millions of petrol and diesel vehicles on the roads for many years after the 2035 ban, all of which will need fuel.
How long will petrol be available in the UK? Well, as long as there is demand, petrol stations will likely continue to provide petrol and diesel.
Does petrol have a sell-by date?
Petrol does degrade over time, which can essentially be considered a “sell-by date”. Petrol stored in a car’s petrol tank will generally remain usable for around 30 days before it starts to degrade. Stored in a proper fuel storage container that’s kept in a cool, dry place and out of direct sunlight, petrol can last between 3 to 6 months.
Should I buy a petrol car now or wait for an electric one?
The decision to buy a petrol car now or wait for an electric car completely depends on your personal circumstances.
Here are a few factors to consider:
Consider how much driving you do, the distances you typically cover, and whether it’s mostly city driving or long-distance trips. Electric vehicles are excellent for city driving and shorter trips, but if you frequently make long-distance journeys, the current range of some EVs and the availability of free charging points might be a concern.
What’s your budget?
While the upfront cost of EVs can be higher than petrol cars, this is balanced by lower running costs over time, including fuel, reduced need for servicing, and tax benefits providing you choose one of the best EV salary sacrifice schemes.
Future resale value
As discussed above, the resale value of petrol and diesel cars is expected to decline in the future as demand shifts towards electric and other zero-emissions vehicles.
Do you have a driveway or garage where you can install a home charging point? If not, are there enough public charging points in your area? Charging infrastructure is improving rapidly, but it’s still a factor to consider.
Given these considerations, if you’re planning on keeping the car for a long period and your current circumstances and local infrastructure support owning an electric vehicle, it could be worth waiting for an electric car.
However, if you need a car right now, and the charging infrastructure is not up to speed in your area, a petrol car might still be a practical choice in the short term.
Hybrid cars could also be a bridge solution until the EV infrastructure is more robust.
Will petrol cars lose value after the 2035 ban?
It’s highly likely that the value of petrol cars on the used car market will decrease after the 2035 ban. There are several factors that could cause them to decrease in value:
- Supply and demand
As the number of new electric vehicles increases and charging infrastructure improves, demand for petrol and diesel vehicles is likely to decrease, which could reduce their resale value.
- Running costs
Over time, the running costs of petrol and diesel vehicles (fuel, road tax, congestion charges, etc.) may increase, making them less economical to run compared to electric vehicles. EVs have favourable BIK rates, making petrol and diesel vehicles less attractive to potential buyers and decreasing their value.
Future regulatory changes, such as low emission zones, increased taxes on fossil fuel vehicles, and potential improvements to the current HMRC EV mileage rates, could all impact the resale value of petrol and diesel vehicles.
- Public perception
As awareness of climate change and environmental responsibility increases, more people may prefer to buy electric vehicles, decreasing the demand and the value of used petrol and diesel cars.
Can I still drive my petrol or diesel Car after 2035?
Yes, can still drive your petrol or diesel car after 2035. The UK government plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035. You can still drive your petrol or diesel car and buy and sell them second-hand.
Petrol and diesel cars will likely still be a common sight on the roads for many years after the ban comes into effect.
The final word on the ban on electric cars in 2035
The shift towards EVs in the UK is continuing to gather speed. The government’s ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 is a clear signal of the UK’s commitment to the fight against climate change.
This transition, however, is not without its challenges.
The EV charging infrastructure has to improve, we need a massive shift in consumer attitudes and a substantial investment in EV manufacturing.
For existing petrol and diesel vehicle owners, there’s no need to panic. The ban applies to new car sales and not the use of existing vehicles. While it’s expected that petrol and diesel cars will gradually decrease in usage and value due to the shift in demand, they will not become obsolete overnight.
While a 100% electric fleet in the UK might not be imminent, the wheels of change are in motion. 2035 will see a significant shift away from fossil fuel-powered vehicles towards a more sustainable, electric-powered UK public!
Ready to dive even deeper...
John is the Editor and Spokesperson for Electric Car Guide.
With over 20 years of writing experience, he has written for titles such as City AM, FE News and NerdWallet.com, covering various automotive and personal finance topics.
John’s market commentary has been covered by the likes of The Express, The Independent, Yahoo Finance and The Evening Standard.