London — The UK is bringing forward a ban on sales of new gasoline and diesel cars to 2030 while maintaining a 2035 cut-off for hybrids -- vehicles that include battery propulsion alongside an internal combustion engine.
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The decision is intended to boost investment in electric vehicles (EVs) and charging networks, and contribute to a UK target of "net zero" carbon emissions by 2050.
It comes against a background of COVID-19 and Brexit uncertainty, the latter affecting car producers especially, but also paves the way to the UK hosting the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow next November.
The UK is Europe's third biggest oil consumer after Germany and France. Its road fuel market -- more than half the country's oil demand -- amounts to about 35 million mt/year, equivalent to just under 45 billion liters, of which gasoline accounts for 35%.
*S&P Global Platts Analytics projects UK new car sales will fall this year due to the pandemic to just over 1.6 million, from 2.5 million/year previously. Assuming a full ban on internal combustion engine car sales in 2030, rising EV sales in the interim would lead to EVs accounting for 20% of the total car parc, or around 7 million vehicles, in that year, displacing more than 60,000 b/d of refined fuels, according to Platts Analytics.
*The UK has the lowest pre-tax fuel prices in the EU due to supply chain efficiencies, according to the UK Petroleum Industry Association. Fuel duty is levied at GBP0.5795 /liter for both gasoline and diesel, with value added tax of 20% charged on the product price and the duty, putting overall tax at around 60% of the pump price.
*Rapid charging of an EV at motorway service stations typically costs GBP6.50 for a 30-minute, 100-mile charge for a 60 *kWh EV with a 200-mile range. Slower, home charging typically costs 12-14 p/kWh, bringing a full charge to GBP8.40.
*Coronavirus lockdowns have slashed mobility levels, with road fuel demand down 42% on the year in Q2 at 5.2 million mt, and pump prices down nearly 10% year-to-date compared with the full-year 2019, at GBP1.14/liter. Oil product output from UK refineries hit a record quarterly low of 10.5 million mt in Q2.
*Road fuel taxes yielded GBP31.8 billion, including VAT, last year, up 6% from 2010.
*The 2020 demand collapse has slashed refining margins, with BP's Northwest Europe refining marker margin down 68% in Q3 at $4.2/b.
The UK's downstream oil sector includes six refineries, accounting for 12% of European refining capacity, 60 coastal terminals and more than 8,000 filling stations, together employing 124,000 people, with 300,000 supported jobs. As with refineries elsewhere recently, collapsing demand has led Petroineos to propose capacity reductions at its Grangemouth refinery in Scotland. Meanwhile charging infrastructure has undergone significant expansion.
*National Grid forecasts that with a 100% EV car fleet, electricity demand would only climb 10%, well within the range of manageable load fluctuation. Home charging potentially clashes with evening peak demand, but smart charging should see this shift to offpeak periods, and EVs could potentially act as virtual power stores to smooth system volatility.
*The UK electric vehicle market is growing rapidly from a low base, with 390,000 plug-in cars, including hybrids, registered as of September, of which 173,000 were pure battery EVs. Plug-in car sales accounted for 9% of new car sales in the first 10 months of 2020.
*National Grid forecasts EV numbers could reach 10 million by 2030, but its estimates range widely, with a lower forecast of just 2.7 million.
*The UK has 35,300 public EV charging connectors, of which nearly 9,000 are defined as rapid (25-99 kW). A 50 kW charge takes about an hour. Ultra-fast charging at 120-350 kW takes 5-10 minutes. The UK has 1,200 ultra-rapid connectors.
*In 2013 the UK flipped to being a net fuel importer, reflecting declines in North Sea oil and refinery shutdowns, with 2019 net imports amounting to 12.6 million mt.
*Liquid fuel import dependence contributes more than GBP3 billion annually in negative trade flows, according to the UK Petroleum Industry Association.
Sources: S&P Global Platts Analytics, UK BEIS, Ofgem, National Grid, SMMT, UKPIA, Zap Map, greencharging.co.uk