I didn’t really want this blog to be about the negatives of the car industry (or at least not so soon) but I am quite intrigued by yesterday’s announcement that the UK will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040. At a first glance it seems like a very reactionary statement made only to keep up with Germany and inevitably, the rest of the EU. Will it stay in the forefront of the public (and media’s) eyesight or will it disappear like so many other Government ‘promises’?
There has been a lot in the media about the subject already and many different opinions, some believe 2040 is just round the corner and others think that it is ages away – well it is over two decades, right? For me it is both, it is a long time for me as a person but for in the industry it concerns it is not a long time at all, just three lifecycles for the average car. One question is whether the huge leaps the industry will make (assuming they progress at the same rate they have in past decades) will be enough to build only electric (or electrified?) vehicles that are obtainable by the same amount of the population that ICE vehicles are now. I’m fairly confident that the large manufacturers will be able to provide most of the important factors that the average motorist wants, but what will happen to the small manufacturers? Brands like Aston Martin, Ariel, Morgan and Lotus will have a hard time to provide a package that is as impressive as their current products on an electric only platform that they probably can’t afford to develop on their own. That also introduces the question: Do you really want an electric Lotus? It rubs against the grain of the Lotus ethos ‘add lightness’ and I’m not convinced that the battery technology will be so developed by 2040 that we will see a Lotus that weighs under the magical 1000kg while providing even a 250 mile range of real driving.
Will the Government give an exclusion to small manufacturers who cannot afford to meet these new terms? I would hope that they would, especially for the fact that these small manufacturers are part of what makes British car culture so fantastic. We are a country with a great many petrolhead (including myself) and I’m sure a great many of us can come to enjoy an electric car, though most wouldn’t admit to it. There are so many questions I would like to see the Government answer about this new ban but I don’t believe there is anyone with any authority that has the answers or would care enough to protect that precious car culture, perhaps only the coming years will tell.
The likelihood of the Government reaching their own targets is – as always – quite low. Is there any way they can provide a major infrastructure project to power all of these cars in that time frame? History tells us no, and even if they do they’ll have to think of something clever to explain away those dirty coal power stations powering our lovely environmentally friendly cars that will whisk you to your destination without a hint of the smog they’ve displaced down the line.