Industry responds to government ‘greenprint’

The government’s ‘greenprint’ to decarbonise all transport by 2050 has received a mixed response from the automotive industry.

The plan includes banning the sale of all petrol and diesel lorries by 2040, with the ban being imposed on polluting lorries under 26 tonnes in 2035. This backs up the ban on the sale on new petrol and diesel cars from 2030.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “The transport decarbonisation plan is just the start – we will need continued efforts and collaboration to deliver its ambitious commitments, which will ultimately create sustainable economic growth through healthier communities as we build back greener.”

However, the automotive industry believes there are still some key unanswered questions.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The automotive sector welcomes the publication of the Transport Decarbonisation Plan and associated consultations, which are necessary to create a clear and supportive framework to accelerate the transition to net zero mobility.

“The industry is already delivering with an ever-expanding range of electrified vehicles which are being bought in ever greater numbers.

“However, achieving net zero cannot rely solely on the automotive sector. Massive investment, not least in infrastructure, is necessary and must be delivered at accelerated pace, for which we still await a plan and equally ambitious targets. Crucially, we must maintain a strong and competitive market that ensures the shift to electrified vehicles is affordable for all.”

Regarding HGVs, he said: “The industry is developing many types of zero-emission technologies for heavy commercial vehicles, with electric, hydrogen and other alternative fuel options available. However, the technologies are still in their infancy – so if the UK wants to be a leader in uptake, government must provide the right incentives and infrastructure so hauliers don’t defer their decarbonising decision to the last minute. Plus, given these vehicles operate across borders, we need to ensure the solutions work both for the UK and our close international markets.”

Meanwhile, Gerry Keaney of the BVRLA said: “The ambitious timescales involved in the phase-outs for the sale of polluting cars, vans and trucks leave little room for error. It is vital that the policymakers continue to engage with a wide cross-section of road users to understand the risks, challenges and opportunities that are being thrown up by this swift transition.”