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Petrol motorcycles sales to end in 2035

New petrol motorcycles will no longer be sold in the UK from 2035 – that’s a key message from the Government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan.

Plans to ban sales of new petrol/diesel cars and vans by 2030, have been in place for some time, but motorcycles and scooters now have their own ‘sell by’ date. This also includes three-wheelers and other L-category vehicles, along with hybrid cars/vans.

 “While the BMF have always been supporters of Ebikes, offering the first prize for an ETT winner in the IoM” said BMF Chair Jim Freeman. “We remain very aware of the many practical problems, such as cost, range, recharging infrastructure, and especially conscious of the extremely low CO2 emissions of very fuel-efficient ICE 2 wheelers. Nobody can say that the volume of pollutants produced by any vehicle that comfortably exceeds 100mpg, without getting held up in traffic jams, is comparable with a 4×4 which does, whatever the power source, unless we can genuinely say its totally powered by renewables. Let’s not even start on the differences in energy consumed at the manufacturing stage.”

The Department for Transport’s (DfT) Decarbonisation Plan makes it clear that there will be no loophole for petrol bikes. “While cars and vans outnumber motorcycles on UK roads, motorcycles are an important and sizeable vehicle population,” it says, “with 1.4 million licensed in 2020, and we do not want to see them remaining fossil-fuelled as the rest of the vehicle fleet cleans up.”

The DfT does appear to recognise that powered two-wheelers have a role to play in cutting emissions. “Zero-emission motorcycles and other powered two-wheelers are an efficient and clean form of mobility that can reduce congestion, improve urban air quality and reduce noise,” it adds.

The consultation on 2035 will be held this year,  but the date could be brought forward, “if a faster transition appears feasible,” according to the DfT. The Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) which will be part of the consultation process, welcomed the announcement of a ‘sell by’ date for petrol. “The government has today laid down a long overdue marker, signalling not the end but the start of our next chapter,” said MCIA chief executive Tony Campbell.  “We will as an association continue to hold the government to account on its promises during this vitally important next phase of implementation.”

Grants to support the purchase of electric motorcycles/scooters will continue until 2022-23, and the government has pledged £582 million to plug-in grant for cars and vans as well as two-wheelers. However, while electric cars are expected to be as cheap as petrol cars within a few years, e-motorcycles are likely to remain more expensive than their petrol cousins for longer, because their development started later. At £12,745, a Zero DS currently costs more than twice as much as the equivalent Honda CB500X (£6,199). Although all electric vehicles are cheaper to run than their petrol equivalents, a higher upfront price remains a stumbling block.

“The BMF will be arguing strongly for an orderly progression towards any phase-out date of petrol motorcycle sales,” said Jim Freeman, “along with our colleagues within the National Motorcyclists Council.”

The Transport Decarbonisation Plan is at:

Written by Peter Henshaw