The UK government has no plans to postpone the 2030 ban on the sales of new petrol and diesel cars, despite calls for a delay from some experts and former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, who argued that the ban is “simply not achievable” and that it would provide a “massive boost to Chinese car manufacturers”.
On the other hand, some experts and car manufacturers, such as McLaren and Aston Martin, are exploring the potential of e-fuels as a carbon-neutral alternative to petrol and diesel. Andrew Graves from the University of Bath called e-fuels “a very exciting technology” that can be used “for keeping existing vehicles on the road”. Meanwhile, Porsche has invested €75m in a pilot plant to produce e-fuels.
The European Union has already banned the sales of new CO2-emitting cars in 2035, but it has included an exemption for e-fuels. E-fuels are synthetic fuels made by mixing CO2 captured from the air with hydrogen produced using renewable or CO2-free electricity. The Telegraph reported that Whitehall was open to the idea of using synthetic fuels if the industry could prove that they would be carbon-neutral.
However, according to a report in Fleet News, a spokesperson from the UK Department for Transport (DfT) has stated that the government is not considering e-fuels as an alternative to petrol and diesel. The DfT argued that e-fuels are not proven technology, have complex supply chains, and emit many of the same pollutants as petrol and diesel. The spokesperson added that while e-fuels might have a role for specialist vehicles, they are not seen as a solution for normal cars and vans.