Professor of Automotive Propulsion at the University of Bath’s Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS), Chris Brace, said: “It is entirely practical to bring forward the date by which conventional vehicles are no longer on sale, but the mix must continue to include hybrid and plug in hybrid. These vehicles - especially the latter - can be effectively zero emissions in cities but still meet the diverse needs of rural residents, commercial users and long distance drivers.”

The report from Parliament’s business select committee criticised cuts to subsidies and the lack of charging points, whilst the committee's chairwoman, Rachel Reeves MP, said the government's targets gave “little clarity or incentive to industry or the consumer to invest in electric cars”.

Professor Brace commented: “The recent reduction in government incentives shows that we cannot, and should not, rely on the government to drive this change by financial interventions. It must be shaped by legislation, but driven by customer benefits. Consumers must be willing to pay their own money for the benefits that these new vehicles offer. This ultimately must apply to both the vehicle itself and the infrastructure that it needs to operate.

“This means that we need to do a significant amount of R&D to improve this offer by reducing purchase and operating costs, and improving the practicality of the emerging alternatives. This is an essential enabler to making the changes we need in a market led economy.”