U.K. Carmakers Blast Johnson’s Plan to Hasten Demise of Gasoline

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. automakers denounced Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to kill off petrol and diesel cars five years earlier than previously announced, saying the target is unlikely to be achieved.

“A date without a plan will merely destroy value today,” Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief Mike Hawes said Monday after Johnson revealed the bid to eliminate fossil-fuel autos including hybrids by 2035. The goal is one of the most ambitious to be set in any country.

Fully electric vehicles, while seeing an increase in demand, accounted for just 38,000 of the 2.3 million cars sold in the U.K. last year, according to figures from the trade group. That’s despite the ever-increasing range of models available without an internal combustion engine.

Industry investment by itself won’t be enough to encourage electric sales, with Britain requiring a more competitive business environment as well as improvements to a “woefully inadequate” charging network, the SMMT said.

U.K. car production dropped to the lowest level in a decade in 2019 as uncertainty over Brexit dented demand. With the country now out of the European Union, carmakers are lobbying for a trade agreement that will allow them to carry on building autos there without tariffs or border disruption.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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