Just when you thought ‘future-proof’ motoring meant going hybrid or all-electric, rumours have been leaked regarding the Governments ‘Road to Zero’ strategy, which is looking at banning the sales of certain new hybrids from 2040, along with diesel and unleaded.

Currently, there is no defined list or parameter regarding the ban, although it’s thought that Road to Zero will target plug-in hybrids that offer less than 50 miles of travel on electric power only, which would mean most of them on sale today.

In fact, it’s been estimated that 99% of the hybrid cars sold today would not be allowed under the proposed legislation.

Knee-jerk reaction

A recent study has described the UK’s air quality as a ‘national health emergency’, so it’s entirely possible that the ‘leaked’ proposals are to combat that. However, a statement from the Department of Transport states “it is categorically untrue that the Government is planning to ban the sale of hybrid (and plug-in hybrid) cars in the UK by 2040. The Road to Zero strategy is yet to be finalised and has not been agreed by ministers”.

As to the reality of the situation, it’s entirely possible that the Government could take this action, but is this more a question of being seen to do something, rather than looking to introduce heavy-hitting measures against cars?

Hybrid-powered cars have been around for decades, the first true hybrid dates back as far as the 1900’s (Lohner-Porsche Elektromobil), but in more recent times, the car that started it all was the Toyota Prius, introduced back in 1997.

The purpose of hybrid

Putting aside performance cars, a hybrid vehicle has been designed for one purpose only, and that is to offer something ‘greener’ for the average motorist. If you wanted economy, there are dozens of cars that will outperform a hybrid in terms of pure MPG, and some cynics may say that manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon in response to the CAFE legislation (Corporate Average Fuel Economy).

Hybrids have been designed to travel only short distances on electric power but making a vehicle travel further than 50 miles on battery power alone is easy, just ask Elon Musk. The technology is available, manufacturers are already looking to extend the ranges of most of their hybrids anyway, so is this shocking headline anything more than the British Government beating their chest and proving their green commitment to the world?

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of the SMMT says “unrealistic targets and misleading messaging on bans will only undermine our efforts to realise this future, confusing consumers and wreaking havoc on the new car market and the thousands of jobs it supports”. Surely the number of industry experts who are warning the government on this matter should be raising flags to the Environment Secretary? At this time of change, the car industry needs stability as the transition to an electric world starts.

Long-term effect

Technology changes day-to-day, the legislation does have to keep pace to a degree, but announcements such as this “Hybrids will be banned!” effectively means nothing today. We have another two-decades before we face the ban, isn’t it likely that as a natural progression, hybrids will be able to travel further than 50-miles?

The bigger question should be regarding infrastructure, and how that will affect us. It’s clear that fossil fuels are on the way out, motorists are slowly coming to terms with electrification – just 5.2% of all new vehicle sales this year have been electric, although that number is steadily rising, but while we will be encouraged to go green, just what are the logistics?

Over two-thirds of households in London have no access to off-street parking, being able to access a charging spot could be more difficult than parking outside your own home, and while there are new technologies in development, who foots the bill?

Charging an electric car in public costs around £10 for an 80% charge on average, including subscription costs, connection fees and monthly recurring fees. It is a necessity for an electric vehicle to have an overnight plugin spot as using the public speed charging points can be harmful for the battery with long-term use.

How will this affect you?

Until an official announcement has been made, there is very little that we can do with the information. Whether the Government do/do not ban certain hybrids in 2040, it’s unlikely that any car purchase decision made today will impact any driver in 22 years time.

With that said, gaining a better understanding of where the legislation is heading could sway your purchasing choices later on, keeping abreast of the situation is as much as you can do right now, and we’ll be updating this article when more information is released, so keep checking back.

The pace at which technology moves and changes means that banning hybrids that can’t reach 50-miles is a complete non-event, but given that Government can introduce legislation at any point, maybe we’ll see that target change.

It seems that while stating that banning the sale of new combustion engine cars by 2040 was a very strong message that provided the Government with real environmental credentials, if this change is also announced as official policy it feel like it may hinder efforts rather than improve the situation.

Do you think announcing a ban on the sale of new hybrid engine cars now 22 years beforehand is worth doing? Would it even influence buying a hybrid car now? Let us know in the comments.

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