The ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030 has been pushed back to 2035, Rishi Sunak has announced.
Speaking this afternoon, the Prime Minister confirmed the U-turn saying there would be a "new approach" for the UK in response to climate change.
He added: "If we continue down this path, we would lose the consent of the British people. That’s why we have to do things differently.
"We're working hard to make the UK a world leader. I'm proud that we've already attracted billions of new investments from companies like Tata's Jaguar Land Rover gigafactory.
Rishi Sunak said a number of changes would be coming in the coming months
"And I expect by 2030 the vast majority of cars sold will be electric. Why? Because the costs are reducing, the range is improving, the charging infrastructure is growing.
"People are choosing electric vehicles to such an extent that we're registering a new one every 60 seconds. But I also think, at least for now, it should be you, the consumer, that makes that choice, not Government forcing you to do it."
Mr Sunak highlighted the expensive upfront cost and that more needed to be done to improve the national charging infrastructure.
The Prime Minister continued, saying: "We need to strengthen our own auto industry so we aren't reliant on heavily subsidised carbon-intensive imports from countries like China.
"So to give us more time to prepare I'm announcing today that we're going to ease the transition to electric vehicles.
"You'll still be able to buy petrol and diesel cars and vans until 2035. Even after that, you'll still be able to buy and sell them secondhand.
"We're aligning our approach with countries like Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Australia, Canada, Sweden and US states like California, New York and Massachusetts and still ahead of the rest of America and countries like New Zealand."
In spite of the ban, the Labour Party has announced it will reverse any delay to the 2030 if it wins the next general election.
Lisa Watson, Director of Sales at Close Brothers Motor Finance, says: “The Government decision to delay the petrol and diesel ban won’t come as a surprise to car dealers given that 85 per cent of dealers didn’t think it would go ahead as planned anyway. Two in three believed it would be delayed, and one in five thought it would be scrapped altogether.
“We know that consumers also have mixed emotions about the switch to electric, and today’s comments will only add to the confusion felt across the industry about the future of car choice.
"The news will also leave manufacturers in the lurch, who have had to adapt their plans based on the ban."
Prior to the announcement, a number of car manufacturers including Stellantis and Jaguar Land Rover issued warnings over any change to the 2030 deadline, saying it would “undermine” their efforts.
Lisa Brankin, the chair of Ford UK, said: “Our business needs three things from the UK Government: ambition, commitment and consistency. A relaxation of 2030 would undermine all three.
“We need the policy focus trained on bolstering the EV market in the short term and supporting consumers while headwinds are strong: infrastructure remains immature, tariffs loom and cost-of-living is high.”