November 19, 2020: The UK government on November 17 announced it was bringing forward a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 10 years as part of a 10-point ‘Green Plan’ to meet its zero emissions target by 2050.
The decision was made as part of Boris Johnson’s £12 billion ($15 billion) spending plans to ‘create and support up to 250,000 highly skilled green jobs in the UK’, the government says.
Top of the 10-point list is quadrupling the amount of offshore wind power, to 40GW by 2030.
The ban on sales of new ICE cars comes in at number four, where the government says it will be ‘transforming our national infrastructure to better support electric vehicles’.
According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, more than 2.3 million new cars were registered in 2019 in the UK, with just 28,000 of them pure battery electric vehicles.
Of the 2.3 million, 1.3 million were petrol, 0.5 million diesel, and 0.6 million plug-in hybrids. This means there will have to be a huge shift in customer mindsets before the number of ICE vehicles is replaced with electric models.
In the short term the policy will have little impact on lead battery makers, with a strong aftermarket and the remaining need for small lead batteries in all electric vehicles.
“I don’t think this generation needs to worry about the UK car rule because it would take at least another 30 years for the petrol car battery to be off the market — and electric vehicles also need lead acid batteries at the moment,” said CEO and president of Leoch Battery Dong Li.
“It is a smaller battery, but the aftermarket will need a big battery supply for some years, some lead-acid battery EVs will expand their market, and with some new applications there is still at least another 30 or 40 years’ life cycle left.
“However, while the news will discourage new investment, I don’t see a problem for existing investment.”
Clarios, the world’s biggest lead battery maker, said it is focusing on start-stop applications.
“Already today, more than 90% of all new vehicles are equipped with fuel-saving start-stop technology,” said Niklas Volke, specialist communications with Clarios EMEA.
“Market trends show that this is the decisive technology both in original equipment and the aftermarket. Some 80% cent of new start-stop vehicles are equipped with an AGM or EFB from Clarios, and we reckon that the share in the EU car park will nearly double between 2018 and 2023.
“The Clarios lead-acid portfolio is also designed to support upcoming electric and driverless vehicles and will deliver an essential contribution to the energy demand of vehicles even in times of electrification. They support the system when the main battery is switched off or failing.
“Today we are already supplying well-known global players in the field of electromobility with our 12V batteries.”
Geoffrey May, director of Focus Consulting, said the UK policy had been badly thought out.
“It’s headline grabbing for the green agenda but seems to lack proper consultation with industry, the public and all the various stakeholders,” he said.
“The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation is an important objective and needs to go hand in hand with reductions in the carbon intensity of electricity generation, which was partially addressed in today’s announcement.
“The automotive industry is worldwide in organization and highly integrated in Europe. It would be much better for the UK to remain aligned with EU rules for vehicle emissions and set standards that allow the motor industry to work together.
“Clearly increased automobile electrification has an impact on the lead battery industry but there is a continuing need for batteries to power 12V systems as auxiliary batteries for safety and security and there is a huge market for replacement batteries, which has to be satisfied long after vehicles have gone into service.
“Lead batteries are preferred for auxiliary applications because they are safer, have proven reliability and are cheaper.”
According to the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists, the UK contributed 1% (0.34 giga tonnes) of global CO2 in 2018, 17th in the world rankings behind China in first place with 28% (10.06GT) and the US second, with 15% (5.41GT).
The only European country in the top 10 was Germany, contributing 2% (0.75GT), according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.