Back in 2019, when the government announced its intention to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, the motor industry knew it had been set a highly ambitious target. However, despite the arduous nature of the challenge ahead and doubts among some experts as to whether it could be achieved, the industry set to work because collectively, it understood the change to be both necessary and inevitable. Also, as an industry, the motor manufacturing sector was aware of its key role in the UK reaching the ultimate net zero target of 2050.

With our ethos of developing sustainable NVH solutions for the motor industry such as our new material Ocean, we’re proud of our part in contributing to a greener and cleaner motoring future. So, alongside key players in the car manufacturing industry, we are dismayed by the prime minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to push back the 2030 target to 2035.

A wasted investment?

When the 2030 target was announced in 2019, many in the industry reacted with shock at the relatively short-term scale of this revolution in how we manufacture cars, not least because of the billions of pounds worth of investment that would be required to make the switch from petrol and diesel in just a decade. However, with the writing on the wall, the industry duly rolled up its sleeves and invested those billions. With the government now backing down on its side of the bargain, it is an understatement to say the industry feels short changed.

Broken promises

As well as the serious consequences for the motoring industry and the broader net zero targets for 2050, this announcement is a serious blow to the government’s credibility. After all, if the government can announce on a whim that the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles is being delayed to 2035, what is to stop it pushing the strategy even further down the line in the future?

This announcement sends a clear signal that the government is prioritising boosting its rating in opinion polls over an ambitious but essential policy it previously claimed to be committed to. Due to this, how can the motor manufacturing industry, or indeed any other sector be expected to have any faith in the government sticking to any of its other policies?

Investment in the UK

Over the past few years, the car manufacturing industry has had to contend with the significant challenges of Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. A key part of recovering from these multiple challenges involves the global motor industry seeing the UK as a safe bet for investment. However, the fact that we are being met with backtracking rather than clear and committed policy decisions will act as a deterrent for businesses who were considering investing in the UK. Many large companies are now likely to be more attracted by the comparative stability of Europe.

Lack of industrial strategy

The government’s announcement can only be seen as a clear indication that they lack commitment to a clearly thought-out industrial strategy. As well as putting off foreign investors, this announcement can only be seen as bad news for the UK economy at a time when the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite, and consumers are cutting back on big ticket purchases such as new cars.

Convincing consumers

Thanks to factors such as the cost of electric vehicles and concerns over battery range and the availability of chargers, the UK public have not been quick to adopt EVs, even if they understand the ultimate need to decarbonise our roads for the good of the environment. The postponement of the diesel and petrol ban sends out completely the wrong message to consumers who, on a personal level, will now be more likely to feel justified in postponing their own decision to make the change to a greener and more sustainable form of driving.

Leading the change

With a general election looming, the medium to long-term impact on the net zero targets is unclear. So, for the moment, it’s up to the motor industry to take the lead by continuing to build on the vast investment it’s already made, as it does its part in preparing for motoring’s green and sustainable next phase. The good news is signs of that intent has already been made clear with Nissan, the only car manufacturer with battery producing facilities in the UK, telling the BBC that they are upping their electrification plans by aiming for all vehicles sold in Europe to be electric by 2030.

Here at Interflex, we will continue to play our part in supplying lightweight and renewable NVH solutions for a motor industry that will continue to take its responsibilities towards a net zero future seriously.

Call us on 01494 861 494 or email us at to find out more about our innovative NVH solutions for the motor industry including Ocean.