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UK could end gas and hybrid car sales sooner than 2035, government says

Now, it could come as soon as 2032.

Traffic exiting London

This could be a different scene in 12 years.

Steve Parsons/PA Images/Getty Images

Is the United Kingdom ready to ditch the internal-combustion engine in just 12 years? It very well could after comments from Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Shapps spoke on BBC Radio 5 on Wednesday, which Autocar reported on, and he said the 2035 goal to ban the sale of new cars to powered by gasoline and diesel could be accelerated further to 2032. Previously, the UK was looking at 2040 as the date to implement the ban, and just recently, 2035 was the widely publicized goal date.

With the plan subject to further negotiations, there's no final date aside from 2035. And even then, things may shift. Fifteen years is a short period of time in which to carry out an incredible change to the UK car buying industry. Knocking three years off the goal is quite ambitious, considering that electric and fuel cell-powered cars are hardly the norm anywhere in the world. Well, perhaps save for Norway.

That could change, of course. A boatload of new mainstream electric cars are set to hit the market this decade, with nearly every major automaker ramping up efforts to introduce zero-emission vehicles. What makes the UK's plan doubly ambitious is the fact that hybrids will also be included in the ban. This is a goal to remove all new cars sold that sip even a liter of fossil fuels.

The used car market, however, will be left alone in the current plan. That will allow buyers to still purchase a used vehicle with an internal combustion engine, but anything found at new car dealers will have to be free of tailpipe emissions.

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