Calm down everyone I think! From the alarming headlines that preceded the government’s announcement last month on tackling air pollution to the more considered comment released by UKPIA’s director general, Chris Hunt (see News Extra on page 10), there were was a lot of shock and bewilderment in between.
The national press screamed headlines proclaiming a ban on the production of all petrol and diesel vehicles within the next 20 years. Really? More than 100 years of combustion engined-powered motoring dispensed with almost overnight in development terms. In the week in which a record crowd attended the Silverstone Classic historic motor racing event, it felt even more poignant. Such amazing vehicles - the end of an era. Has the moment for only electric motor transport really arrived? We seem to have been banging on about it for ages. I remember in the ’90s when oil was supposed to be running out any time soon, driving test cars that deliberately stalled at junctions; and vans with the rear compartment full of heavy batteries.
Not much has changed, although in practice, yes, electric vehicles take less time to charge. But are people tempted to buy them? No. Do we have the infrastructure to support more than 34 million electric cars on the road? No. Do you trust those in high places to make the right decisions about such things? No. And what about the £20bn a year of lost government revenues in terms of fuel duty and tax?
Will there be other, even bigger problems down the electric line such as the sourcing of precious minerals to produce the large batteries needed to power the new breed of vehicles. You solve one problem and create another. There’s talk of removing road bumps to cut exhaust emissions. They were put there for a reason - road safety. Does this not matter any more? There’s a lot of misinformation flying about that’s gathering momentum and diesel engines seem to have become the pariahs of the modern motoring world. A car salesman remarked to me amid all the confusion ’hopefully someone will invent a new power source very soon’. Let’s hope so, and that it’s served by forecourts!