MPs have urged the Government to ban new petrol and diesel cars from 2032, eight years earlier than planned.

They say it would provide a boost to the UK’s manufacturers of electric cars, such as Nissan in Sunderland.

It comes after Nissan managers said they hoped to extend the range of electric vehicles they produce, but faced a challenge convincing motorists to make the change from diesel and petrol engines.

MPs said: “We recommend that the Government bring forwards a clear, precise target for new sales of cars and vans to be truly zero emission by 2032.”

The recommendation was included in a new report by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, following an inquiry into plans to get diesel and petrol vehicles off the roads.

Ministers are currently committed to ending the sale of new “conventional” petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040, with the goal of ensuring almost every vehicle on the road is a “zero-emission” vehicle by 2050. This would mean they do not emit particles which cause air pollution.

Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf

However, the UK lags behind other countries, with Norway planning to ensure only electric vehicles are sold from 2025.

The MPs also called on the Government to cut vehicle excuse duty for electric cars.

And they criticised the Government’s announcement that it is to cut the “plug in car grant” offered to purchasers of new electric vehicles.

It will be reduced from £4,500 to £3,500 for vehicles producing the least pollution, and scrapped for some other vehicles.

During the inquiry, MPs heard evidence from Gareth Dunsmore, Electric Vehicle Director of Nissan Europe. He told them the manufacturer was ready to produce more electric vehicles to build on the success of the Sunderland-produced Leaf.

He said: “As markets grow, we certainly want to be able to step up to meet that demand and to start introducing a broader range of electric vehicles as well to meet that demand.

“Not everyone is going to want a C-segment mass-produced electric vehicle, electric van or family vehicle. We need to go beyond there to look after other customers’ needs as well.”

Mr Dunsmore also warned that the firm faced challenges convincing motorists to accept electric cars.

“The first barrier is perception and education on what is possible with an electric vehicle. I guess most of us here grew up in Britain and my experience of an electric vehicle when I was young was a milkfloat.

“Unfortunately, when we go out there and ask our customers who have not taken that step to electrification, it is because of lots of falsehoods.

“We need to work quite hard and we are working quite hard at Nissan to make sure we are continuing to educate our network and our customer base of the benefits of electrification.”

He told MPs that Nissan was committed to the UK and the Sunderland plant, saying: “There is a place to invest here and a positivity about Britain that can still generate wealth over the mid-term, so we are very focused on the UK.

“Obviously, we have our plant in Sunderland, we are building more electric vehicles than ever before up in Sunderland and will continue to do so, to meet not just British demand for electric vehicles but European demand.”

Rachel Reeves MP, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee said: “Electric vehicles are increasingly popular, and present exciting opportunities for the UK to develop an internationally competitive EV industry and reduce our carbon emissions.

"But, for all the rhetoric of the UK becoming a world leader in electric vehicles, the reality is that the Government’s deeds do not match the ambitions of their words.”

She added: “The UK Government’s targets on zero-emissions vehicles are unambitious and vague, giving little clarity or incentive to industry or the consumer to invest in electric cars.

“If we are serious about being electric vehicle world leaders, the Government must come forward with a target of new sales of cars and vans to be zero emission by 2032.”