New cars which cannot travel at least 50 miles on electric power 'may be banned'

New cars unable to travel at least 50 miles on electric power might be banned by 2040, it has been reported.

It was announced last year that the sale of new petrol and diesel cars would be banned by 2040, but the impact on hybrids was unclear.

Only cars with a zero-emissions range of at least 50 miles may escape the ban, according to Autocar.

The measure will be included in the Government's Road To Zero Strategy aimed at tackling air pollution, the car magazine reported.

Some 99% of new cars available now would be outlawed if such a rule is introduced, including popular hybrid models such as the Toyota Prius.

A Department for Transport (DfT) spokeswoman said: "It is categorically untrue that Government is planning to ban the sale of hybrid cars in the UK by 2040."

The strategy document, which will be published by the environment, business and transport departments, is yet to be finalised.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said manufacturers share the Government's goal of cutting emissions and is investing billions of pounds in developing new technology.

He warned that the number of electrified models on sale will continue to grow, but the industry "cannot dictate the pace of change nor levels of consumer demand".

Mr Hawes went on: "Unrealistic targets and misleading messaging on bans will only undermine our efforts to realise this future, confusing consumers and wreaking havoc on the new car market and the thousands of jobs it supports.

"We cannot support ambition levels which do not appreciate how industry, the consumer or the market operate and which are based neither on fact nor substance."

He added that it is disappointing for both industry and consumers that important information about government policy is being "communicated by leaks".

Autocar editorial director Jim Holder accused the Government of failing to provide "any clarity of how it will support the ban" through purchase incentives and the creation of a suitable charging infrastructure.

"By imposing a ban with so little detail or evidence of support car buyers are likely to be confused once again," he told the Press Association.