UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced Wednesday he will ease the transition to electric vehicles, allowing customers to choose to switch instead of being forced by the government, Kallanish reports.

In a televised speech on Downing Street, Sunak confirmed plans to change the UK net-zero approach leaked a day earlier. He said the decision to delay the ban on new petrol and diesel car and van sales to 2035, instead of 2030, reflects his “pragmatic, proportionate and realistic” new plan.

“We have been working hard to make the UK a [EV] world leader,” Sunak says. “I expect that by 2030, the vast majority of cars sold will be electric… because the costs are reducing, range improving, and the charging infrastructure is growing. People are already choosing an electric vehicle to such an extent that we’re registering a new one every 60 seconds.”

“But I also think, that at least for now, it should be you, the consumer, that makes that choice, not the government forcing you to do it because the upfront cost still is high – especially for families struggling with the cost of living,” he continues.

Despite “all the flack” he said he is getting with the new policy, which includes other areas, the PM says he is convinced the changes are right and courageous. He proposes a “sensible green leadership” which will see the UK remain committed to its net-zero target by 2050. By that, he means his policymaking will be based on “consent not imposition,” as his government “will never impose these unnecessary and heavy-handed measures on the British people.”

Sunak denies the changes are “watering down” the UK’s green commitments and emphasises that the country is leading global decarbonisation already. He adds that the “extension” on new ICE sales is in line with Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Australia, Canada and the US states of California, New York and Massachusetts. It’s also ahead of the rest of the US states and New Zealand, he claims.

Additionally, the politician says the change will enable the automotive industry to better prepare a supply chain that’s not reliant on fossil fuel-based and highly subsidised supplies; and enable the EV charging infrastructure to improve to meet the demand growth. “The best thing I can do for business is to ensure that we actually continue to deliver net-zero because it has the consent of the British public,” Sunak says, when asked about policy uncertainty affecting investments.

He also promised to shortly present the mandate on how to reach net-zero, referring to the regulation and details of the proposed Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate, the auto industry has been waiting for.

The change also means petrol and diesel cars and vans will continue to be sold in the UK second-hand market after 2035.