Aston Martin, Honda and more question UK petrol car ban

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Words: Matthew Hansen
27 Nov 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent call to bring forward the ban of selling new petrol and diesel cars to 2030 was met with mixed calls among the public. And it seems like certain car manufacturers aren’t so sure, either.

A report into the move has been commissioned by the likes of McLaren, Aston Martin, and Honda, as well as supplier firm Bosch. Titled ‘Decarbonising Road Transport: There is no silver bullet 2020’, the report effectively concludes that the issue of vehicle emissions in the UK is more nuanced than simply what comes out of a car’s exhaust pipe and the goal of being ‘net zero’ by 2050 is unlikely to be met under the current plan.

The report asks the UK government to prioritise what it calls “well to wheel” emissions — the emissions generated during a vehicle’s production — in its consideration of the environment. According to research it cites, production of the average electric car creates 63 per cent more CO2 emissions than a petrol or diesel equivalent.

It also references statistics supplied by Volvo. The Swedish firm recently dived into the world of EVs via its Polestar brand, simultaneously killing off diesel models in its line-up in favour of hybrids. Its internal research claims that the owner of a fully electric Polestar 2 would have to drive it 77,200km before its carbon footprint would drop below that of a petrol-powered XC40, due to the emissions created during the EV’s production.

It should be acknowledged that the environmental impacts of EV production are being improved on an ongoing basis. Just recently, BMW announced it planned to reduce its production line CO2 emissions by 80 per cent by 2030.

The report calls for what it calls a “technology neutral” approach, where EVs sit on a more equal plane with other potential environmental solutions like hydrogen or any other possible alternative currently being worked on. Synthetic fuels are noted in the report as a technology that’s in development, although it links it more to enthusiast travel rather than mainstream travel (Porsche are a big investor in the emerging alternative, funnily enough).

“We need to do more than just electrify the fleet,” said Andy Eastlake, managing director of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership. “We are still selling diesel and petrol cars, the engines of which could play out until 2050, so we have to look at decarbonising fuel.”

“The UK is home to some incredibly innovative companies and research institutions,” added Matt Western, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Motor Group. “We should foster their creativity by taking a technology-neutral approach to our emissions-reduction ambitions, allowing the industry to do what it does best: innovate.”


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