International climate change treaties have included eliminating new cars with internal combustion engines in the coming decades as a target and Britain passed a carbon budget for the 2030s with the same aim last year.
Nigel Stein, chief executive of GKN, the FTSE 100 engineer whose components are reckoned to be in every other new car globally, put it succinctly: “This is not new news. The committee on climate change has wanted it for years and we’ve been pushing into electrification technology for years.
“What today’s announcement does is focus the mind – 2040 may seem miles off but having a date brings things into focus.”
The Committee on Climate Change said it welcomed the news, even if it was later than the 2035 deadline it would have liked to have seen.
Jaguar Land Rover, Britain’s biggest car manufacturer with 544,000 vehicles rolling off its UK lines last year, could be considered to be the company bang in Defra’s sights with the announcement. About 80pc of JLR cars sold in the UK rely on powerful diesel engines and UK boss Jeremy Hicks recently delivered a keynote speech at an industry summit in diesel’s defence.