There is a lot of comment about the UK government announcement that by 2040 they will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. Most of the comment seems to be ill informed, made by people with little or no understanding of the motor industry or technology.

The government 2040 announcement is typical politics, to little too late. Even without this law, everyone will be buying electric by then. This just makes it look like they are doing something when actually it makes no difference. Smoke and mirrors. This is a direct response to the legal challenge against their air quality pledges.
The fact is that the car industry has been trying to get us into electric cars for decades. Range from batteries has traditionally been relatively poor, but still quite usable for the average commute. We didn’t buy them because of anxiety about range, whipped up by poor quality journalism trying to make a big story to sell more copy. Fact is that the average journey is less than 20 miles, with over 90% park time, easily in range with time to recharge.

Anyway, with increasing restrictions on exhaust emissions, and the huge expense of developing petrol and diesel engines, coupled with the rapid advancement in battery technology, we are rapidly approaching the point where electric powertrains will out perform combustion engines for a lower total investment. 

At that point the internal combustion engine will be utterly pointless. I’ve spent my whole career working on fantastic petrol and diesel engines, so it’s a bit of a wrench, but I think it’s a very good thing.

OK, so we’re not there quite yet, but the way things look from inside the industry I’d guess we’ll hit that tipping point in about ten years. After that we may still have hybrids for another decade, maybe, although I think they are a compromise solution that has a good advantage right now, but as pure EV technology improves they will become redundant too.

This does not effect the sale of second hand petrol and diesel cars, so far our classics are safe, but they are under threat from some quarters, we must remain vigilant.

So you see, by 2040 no car company will have offered a petrol or diesel car for many years anyway, regardless of the government. It’s 23 years away. Look back 23 years; no smart phone, no social media, supercars had less than 600 bop and now you can get a family estate car with more power than that!

It’s no time to be complacent though. This law is a farce, which means there will be challenges and changes to it. The government still has plenty of time to do something stupid.