New cars and vans powered wholly by petrol and diesel will not be sold in the UK from 2030, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.
But some hybrids would still be allowed, he confirmed.
It is part of what Mr Johnson calls a green industrial revolution to tackle climate change and create jobs in industries such as nuclear energy.
Critics say the £4bn allocated to implement the 10-point plan is far too small for the scale of the challenge. The total amount of new money announced in the package is a 25th of the projected £100bn cost of high-speed rail, HS2.
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “While extremely ambitious, this announcement doesn’t come as a huge surprise as there’s an urgent need to reduce the emissions generated from vehicle use.
“The car industry clearly now faces a monumental challenge to change its production lines, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure will need to be expanded at an incredible pace to cope with the surge in electric vehicles coming on to our roads. We believe many more rapid charging devices are needed in order to give drivers the confidence that they can make longer journeys in a convenient and time efficient manner. While many people, especially those with off-street parking, will charge their vehicles overnight at home, this won’t be possible for everyone so access to a reliable national charging network is vital to make the process of recharging simple and convenient.
“Unfortunately, at the moment EVs are something of a rarity on the used car market which is something that needs to change as around eight million people a year buy second-hand cars, many more than buy brand-new vehicles. For now, the Government should focus on how it can better incentivise consumers to go electric.
“The Government also now needs to work out how it’s going to plug the inevitable hole in fuel duty revenue that the switch to EVs will create. Currently, it collects around £28bn a year from fuel duty so the Treasury will need to quickly devise a new system that is fair for all drivers.
“As more electric vehicles come on to our roads, revenue from fuel duty will decline so it’s inevitable a new system will have to be developed. While not paying car tax is clearly an incentive to go fully electric at the moment, we will soon need a system that can levy tax on both conventionally fuelled and battery electric vehicles fairly. If this isn’t addressed, we risk finding ourselves in a situation where petrol and diesel drivers continue to pay all the tax for using the roads which is unsustainable.
“But drivers are firm in their views that any new system must not be used as a way to increase the tax burden on them. Despite this, RAC research shows around four-in-10 drivers believe that some form of ‘pay-per mile’ system would be fairer than the current system of fuel duty, while half (49%) agree that the more someone drives the more they should pay in tax. Drivers are also clear that tax revenues from any replacement for fuel duty should be solely reinvested back into the road network.”