UK falling behind net zero targets to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles

A UK motorway

Sales of new HGVs will be phased out by 2040

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 30/08/2023

- 12:13

Updated: 30/08/2023

- 16:46

Most drivers believe the UK is lacking in its aim to phase out polluting commercial vehicles

The UK is behind schedule with its own goals to phase out petrol and diesel commercial vehicles, new data has found.

In a recent Industry Outlook half year survey, around 88 per cent of drivers believe the UK is behind schedule on its phase-out targets for HGVs.

A staggering 93 per cent of survey respondents said the nation was also behind when it came to sales of vans.

The data, from the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, also revealed that no respondents believed that the UK was ahead of schedule with its respective net zero targets for vans or HGVs.

Boris Johnson with an electric van

More than nine in 10 drivers believe the UK is falling behind its own targets


In 2022, the Government consulted whether heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) should be exempt from the 2035 phase-out of sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles.

From 2040, it is expected that sales of new non-zero emission HGVs will be banned, five years after other polluting vehicle types.

The sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned at the end of the decade, with a similar ban affecting hybrid vehicles coming into force five years later.

It is estimated that HGVs account for 18 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and 13 per cent of nitrogen oxide emissions for road transport.

Gerry Keaney, chief executive of the BVRLA, said that more needed to be done to ensure the UK is on track with its net zero efforts.

He said: “The fleet sector has always led the way in adopting new technologies and bringing cleaner, greener vehicles to our roads.

“The diverse nature of the commercial vehicle sector means that there is no silver bullet when it comes to decarbonisation.

“A range of solutions are required to meet what are often unique use cases.”

BVRLA members own and operate a combined fleet of 90,000 trucks and 826,000 vans and buy more than half of all new commercial vehicles sold on an annual basis.

Currently, Government grants are still available for a number of vehicles following the ending of the Plug-in Car Grant in 2022.

Motorists can get up to £2,500 off the price of a small van, or £5,000 off a large van, with plenty of hybrid and electric options available.

The grant scheme also provides additional funding for small and large trucks, with drivers potentially saving £16,000 and £25,000 respectively.


An electric van

There are only a handful of electric or hybrid trucks on the market


While this is a positive step, there are only three eligible small vans when using the grant and a further five available electric large trucks.

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