No new gas or diesel vehicles to be sold in the UK by 2030. While the new mandate only applies to the sale of new cars and not the ownership or sale of used or older vehicles, this move does start a larger transition that will have far-reaching effects on the automotive trade and hobby as a whole.
As should come as no surprise, the Electric Vehicle Association (EVA) of England is welcoming the UK Government’s decision to bring forward the phasing out of the sale of new petrol (gasoline) and diesel cars and vans by 2030 – ten years earlier than planned – as part of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.
This decision supports ‘big picture’ issues such as the UK’s ambition to have net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050 to combat climate change, and the urgent need to improve local air quality.
While this ruling impacts only new vehicle sales, not used vehicles, Hagerty, the company best know for supplying insurance to the classic car market has conducted some interviews with small new car makers in Britain. These companies, such as Caterham and Morgan, could be hit particularly hard by the need to change their products.
According to the interview conducted by Hagerty, Graham MacDonald, CEO of Caterham, is the first to point out the problem of the weight of current batteries but then cost quickly follows as an issue.
The whole ethos of the Seven is to add lightness, and the battery packs add somewhere in the region of 300kg which would kill the handling characteristics of the Seven.Graham MacDonald, CEO of Caterham
We know the advantages of electric powertrains, but it just doesn’t work. We don’t have the skill or budget to develop our own electric powertrain and while electric powertrains doesn’t fit the ethos of Caterham now, I have no doubt that it will do in the future.
Others are taking a more proactive move towards electrification, including Ariel. Simon Saunders, founder of the reborn Ariel brand, has already shown great interest in electric vehicles and is aware that it would be dangerous to do nothing.
“We are involved in several multi-million-pound projects working on EVs, battery packs and control systems” explains Saunders. “Many of the jumps in technology come from small technology companies like us, who can adopt this technology quickly and in low numbers, start a supply chain and introduce cutting-edge technology to the market.” Ultimately, says Saunders, “those who can’t move with requirements and legislation will die.”
Morgan is taking a less drastic approach to its evolution, despite having already shown the fantastically steampunk electric Three-Wheeler EV3. The company that was once famed for refusing to change the way things were done is now focused on an electric future.
Models like the EV3, which is not yet planned for production have proven that there is genuine demand for an electric Morgan. The EV technology within the marketplace is evolving at such a speed, we are assessing a number of drivetrain solutions and opportunities.Steve Morris, chairman and CEO of Morgan
There are other factors to consider, too. Understandably, whether in private or in the open, many of these manufacturers hope that the government can be persuaded to extend the deadline or even provide an exclusion to niche carmakers.
MacDonald says Caterham is particularly hopeful about continuing with a traditional petrol-powered offering, if legislators will allow. “If we can canvass the government and say ‘look, the reality is that the cars are noisy and arguably dirty, but they get driven under 2000 miles per year – can there be an exception for low volume cars?“
Some suspect the move to electrification in the mainstream could see car enthusiasts buying more specialist models. After all, if everyday cars become more uniform, finding an outlet for motoring fun is potentially far more likely to come from a low mileage ‘hobby’ car.
Arguably more problematic than the powertrain technology is the charging infrastructure needed to support cars. Take the challenging environment of a motor racing circuit. Can the largest venues, never mind the sort of grass-roots locations often used for track days in the UK, afford the infrastructure needed for routine super-rapid charging of multiple vehicles?
However, beyond the issues of weight and cost, all agree that the benefits of electric propulsion are clear and considerable. As Ariel’s Simon Saunders puts it, “It’s not just a case of taking out the ICE and fitting a motor. Electrification can open up a whole new kind of performance.”
Other entities, such as the BVRLA, are taking a more balanced and cautious approach. The BVRL is government lend support for this initiative in three primary ways. First, tax incentives and grants; second, efforts must be taken to insure that the UK remains an attractive market for manufacturers to sell their cars; and third, the required infrastructure to support the initiative needs to be put in place such as charging stations.
Again, as mentioned, the new ruling only applies to the sale of new cars and not the ownership or sale of used or older vehicles, this move does spark a larger transition that will have far reaching effects on the automotive trade, collector car market, home and small repair shop, and hobby as a whole.
You can read the full Hagerty feature on their UK website.