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The UK government’s plan to phase out the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles by 2035 has been deemed unrealistic by the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA).

Due to the diversity of vehicles and business models in the fleet sector, setting a single date would be a mistake, says the association. It warned that while 2035 would be an achievable target for some segments of the market, it would be almost impossible for others.

Instead, the BVRLA has urged policymakers to focus on these varying segments and provide support and appropriate phase-out targets for each vehicle use case.

Gerry Keaney (pictured above), chief executive of the BVRLA, said: “Our response is the culmination of the biggest policy engagement process we have ever undertaken, involving dozens of stakeholders and BVRLA members from across the rental, car club, leasing and fleet management sectors.

“The net-zero transition is a huge undertaking and Government must give specific consideration to the demand measures that will drive uptake, the supply measures that will ensure sufficient vehicles are available and the infrastructure measures that will meet different fleet operating requirements.”

The association has requested that the government undertake a regular review of progress towards the phase out dates, and to only end hybrid car and van sales if battery electric vehicle supply, affordability and infrastructure is able to fill the void left in the fleet market.

Additionally, the BVRLA has released new independent tax modelling which shows that the government will need to invest £100 billion between now and 2050 if it hopes to meet the phase out target for the new car market.

Keaney added: “The Government is about to set road users some very ambitious and expensive targets for decarbonising their fleets. BVRLA members are up for the challenge, but Government needs to show similar ambition and investment in providing a supportive policy environment and an effective tax and incentive regime.

“Zero emission vehicle mandates are not the answer. We need to align our electric vehicle strategy with our closest markets in the EU, where grants and incentives have proved much more successful.

“Furthermore, I’m concerned at the lack of fleet sector representation on the Department for Transport’s new Net Zero Transport Board. The list of people included on the Board shows a worrying lack of regard for the views of those that buy vehicles, pay motoring taxes and use roads.

“BVRLA members own and operate more than five million vehicles and were responsible for around 80% of new battery electric vehicles registered in 2019. The Secretary of State has missed a massive opportunity to tap into that knowledge and experience.”

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