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The 2035 UK Ban on Hybrid Vehicles – Our View

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On the 4th of February 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson launched the UN Climate Summit COP26 in London, alongside Sir David Attenborough and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

What is COP26?
For the first time, the UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), which will take place in Glasgow at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) on 9 – 20 November 2020. The climate talks will be the biggest international summit the UK has ever hosted; bringing together over 30,000 delegates including heads of state, climate experts and campaigners to agree coordinated action to tackle climate change.

Surprise Ban on Hybrid Vehicle Sales
During the launch, the Prime Minister announced the UK’s manifesto on climate change and announced that the UK would bring forward a ban on new diesel and petrol car sales from 2040, to 2035. The move surprised some, but perhaps most surprising was the confirmation that the ban will also include hybrid vehicles, which use a combustion engine running on fossil fuel and an electric battery pack.

Little’s Hybrid Fleet
Little’s have been renewing their fleet in Scotland with Hybrid vehicles since 2015, when we first added Lexus GS300h petrol-electric executive saloons. We have further invested in our eco-fleet since then with the addition of Mercedes E Class plug-in hybrids in 2018 and 2019. 40% of our fleet in Scotland is currently made up of Hybrid vehicles and we are on track to have a fully hybrid fleet by 2023.

How do Hybrid Cars Work?
Hybrid cars such as our Lexus GS300h use some power from the engine and kinetic energy generated from slowing down and braking is used to charge the integrated electric battery – this is what leads some manufacturers to use the term ‘self-charging’. Then, as you accelerate, electricity from the battery powers the electric motor and helps the car gain speed, placing less reliance on the petrol engine, therefore improving fuel economy and reducing emissions

Plug-in Hybrid cars, such as our Mercedes E Class Hybrids, work in the same way with the added bonus of being able to plug the vehicles in to recharge the battery.

Why have Hybrids been added to the 2035 ban?
The greatest environmental advantage of hybrid cars is shown in urban environments, where braking is more frequent and therefore the battery is recharged regularly. With 80% of Little’s chauffeur driven hires taking place in this kind of environment, our responsible decision to invest in Hybrid technology has, and will continue to, drastically reduce CO2 emissions and fuel usage in delivering our service.

However, some of the uptake of hybrids has undoubtedly been driven by tax breaks for company cars, regardless of whether the owner actually uses the plug-in functionality or not, meaning that these cars are often emitting just as much as any other combustion engine vehicle on the road and we believe this is what has prompted the government to include Hybrid cars in their 2035 ban.

Does the future ban change Little’s stance on Hybrids?
Absolutely not! The ban on the sale of Hybrid cars is 15 years away and there needs to be huge advances in infrastructure in the UK before running a fully electric fleet would be possible. We have been pioneering in our vision to move to a fully Hybrid fleet by 2023 and the announcement of the ban makes no difference to our intention to achieve this target. We are ensuring that in this interim period between petrol/diesel and fully electric, we are reducing our impact on the environment as much as we can, using the latest available technology.

As we move towards 2035 and UK wide advances in infrastructure enable electric vehicles to operate in both urban and rural areas, Little’s will continue to have this pioneering vision and our move to an all-electric fleet will be executed in line with legislation, our commitment to the environment and the needs of our increasingly environmentally conscious client base.