The U.K. will delay its planned ban on the sale of new vehicles powered purely by an internal-combustion engine by five years due to economic concerns. It means the ban will now come into effect in 2035, instead of 2030, matching the deadline for a similar ban set by the European Union and some other countries.
The delay was announced on Wednesday by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during a press conference on Downing Street.
“We seem to have defaulted to an approach that will impose unacceptable costs on hard-pressed British families,” he said. “We are going to ease the transition to electric vehicles.”
Despite the delay, Sunak said the U.K. is still on track to meet its commitment to hit net zero carbon emissions by 2050. He also said the government expects most new vehicles to be EVs by 2030, as the cost of the technology comes down and the charging infrastructure grows.
The delay has been criticized by environmental groups as well as some automakers that have already made investments to prepare for a switch to EVs by the 2030 date and were hopeful the ban would boost demand.
The original ban was announced in 2020 by then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson and is harsher than what some other countries plan, as it also calls for a ban on hybrids capable of delivering an electric range, which some countries are allowing.
Furthermore, the ban in the E.U., which was approved this year, requires cars to produce zero carbon emissions by 2035. This means there is room for vehicles powered by carbon-neutral e-fuels to still be sold.