Big news overnight. The government has decided to bring forward a ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars (including mild- and plug-in hybrids!) by five years to 2035.

Naturally there has been loooooaads of chat online and many voicing their anger and incredulity about it all, branding it ‘fantasy’ and the usual ‘Yes, but how are they going to do this when there aren’t enough chargepoints’ and and and etc. etc.

Now I always tend to treat whatever politicians say with a pinch of salt at the best of times, but bringing the ban forward is not such a bad thing and here’s why…

First, air quality. Those who cycle into central London are acutely aware of just how bad the air quality is, heck, just walking in the streets you get a constant whiff of exhaust fumes. The second point, though, is 15 years is a really long time in the automotive industry. That’s practically three product lifecycles for one single model and I’m pretty confident that by 2035 the technology will have incrementally improved to a point that doesn’t seem possible in the here-and-now.

Imagine being told in 2005 you’d have a choice of cars capable of doing 250-miles-plus on a single charge – from two Korean manufacturing juggernauts and an American tech company that was formed only two-years prior and only went on to produce its first car in 2008. Imagine hearing that in 2005!

To illustrate my point, have a quick browse of automotive magazine archives from 2005 – 15 years ago.

One popular model that caught the eye was the E90 BMW 330i SE Auto – lovely car. At the time, this mainstay of middle management up and down the country returned around 33mpg with claimed CO2 output of…216g/Km CO2. In today’s money, you’d be coughing up £1,240 first year tax and a whopping 37% in BIK.

What of today’s G20 version of the same car, well, that’s now averaging in the upper 30s/early 40s in mpg on the tougher WLTP cycle and 137g/km CO2. Tax is £205 for the first year and 28% BIK.

What about the banning of mild hybrids and plug-ins? They should probably not get the chop, but then you read stories about how many of the plug-ins are being bought simply to benefit from the tax break without ever going near a charge point and you can see the flipside of the argument.

Isn’t that the great thing about our remarkable industry, though? We boast an incredible pool of talented engineers and designers who can, err, engineer and design clever solutions in a relatively short space of time. Politicians will have come and gone by then, but I feel it’ll all be alright on the night.

Written by Ian Tonkin