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The UK cannot lead from behind: why we need a 2030 ICE ban

Posted July 05, 2018 by Erik

Our Founder and CEO Erik Fairbairn argues that the UK’s ambition to be a global leader in mobility is compromised by weak targets for phasing out petrol and diesel vehicles. Here’s what he has to say:

At Pod Point we’re big fans of having a mission. Ours is to ensure travel doesn’t damage the earth. It’s a big, far-reaching goal. We may never achieve this ambition, however, it is inspiring and provides us with direction.

The UK government’s mission of banning petrol and diesel by 2040 is neither far-reaching nor inspiring enough. And if recent reports are to be believed, these already weak goals are set to be watered down even further as part of the long awaited Road to Zero strategy, due to be published by the end of the month. This move, if confirmed, seems at odds with the Government’s ambition to make the UK a world leader in the future of mobility, with nine other countries setting more ambitious targets.

Which is better: a stretch target of banning all ICE cars in 2030, which we miss and achieve a year later, or a woolly statement about perhaps achieving it by 2040? As highlighted in the Committee on Climate Change’s recent progress report, tough standards and targets will push us as a country, force us to think differently and come up with innovative solutions. The other says, ‘Business as usual, nothing to see here.

Climate Change Committee Graph

Source - Reducing UK emissions 2018 Progress Report to Parliament Committee on Climate Change

Climate change is one of the largest issues humanity is currently facing. We’re only just beginning to see the effects. From humanitarian disasters caused by the significant uptick in the severity of storms, to farmable land reduced to wasteland and polar ice caps melting at an incredible rate affecting our entire climate eco-system, (as an aside, watch Al Gore’s Film Inconvenient Sequel if you want more on this). Then there’s the financial cost: in the UK alone its estimated that air pollution associated with petrol and diesel vehicle emissions is costing our NHS £6bn a year and having a tangible negative impact on life expectancy.

Make no mistake: all of us are affected by climate change and air pollution, rich and poor alike. It’s not something that can be written off as someone else’s problem.

What's sad is that a ban by 2030 looks entirely feasible - it isn’t a crazy unachievable target. It’s a hard target, but it can be done. Just look at how batteries are improving while costs are plummeting (and hence EV range at a given price point). Battery costs are decreasing at about 19% every year, with a battery for a 250-mile range EV falling from c$60,000 in 2010 to just c$6,000 in 2019 if current trends continue. And it doesn’t stop there.

On this basis, by 2022, a 250 mile range EV will cost the same as an equivalent ICE car, and be 5 to 10 times cheaper per mile to run. By 2025 a 250 mile range EV will be significantly cheaper to buy AND be 5-10x cheaper per mile to run.

What will most people opt for in this scenario? To pay a significant premium for an ICE car over a smoother, faster, easier to drive EV which does >250m on a charge, and costs 2p/mile to run? Of course not, they’ll take the EV.

Remember when you uploaded MP3s to your phone? Then you switched to Spotify / Apple Music? Because the new technology was both cheaper and better.

EVs will soon to be both cheaper and better than ICE, and that will lead to rapid mass adoption starting in the early 2020s.

By 2030, almost no-one will want an ICE vehicle.

So come on UK Government - move the ICE ban to 2030. Inspire us all, make us work to achieve it. We can see a route to getting it done. Climate change and air quality are not something we should go gently on - we have to push, and a 2030 deadline is the right answer on this one...