Just in case you thought you knew all you needed to know about the timescale for the transition to EVs, along comes, pardon the pun, a bit of a shock. The government, under huge pressure from powerful global eco lobbies to ’do more’ about the ’climate emergency’ has reacted. Wanting to be seen to be setting an example to the world, it announced last month that it plans to bring forward the date for banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans to 2035, or even earlier. The real sting in the tail is that the ban would also apply to hybrids (see News Extra, page 10), which had been seen as something of a reassurance to the fuel retailing sector in that a certain amount of traditional automotive fuel would still be required for years to come.
It’s not surprising that the motor industry - and the many associated businesses - is in uproar. This latest announcement comes 10 years into a 30-year plan.
Does anyone who makes these decisions really understand how long it takes to haul back a transport network and modus operandi of millions of people that has evolved over more than 100 years and turn it on its head?
Good progress is being made - there are many companies doing great work towards a zero-carbon future. Just look at all those involved in the Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce which last month submitted 21 key proposals for actions to be taken by government and industry to enable the efficient integration of EVs with the energy system. But the costs and the upheaval are huge. And no one has come up with an answer for the replacement of the annual £28bn tax revenue from fuel duty.
And what a betrayal to the motorists, who are keen to do the right thing, but also need to get on with going about their daily business, and keep the country running. They don’t have fortunes to spend on the early adoption of new technology which may soon be obsolete. Who do we trust to give us the right information so people and industry can make sensible and realistic decisions? The science is very complex and the reality is very hard to achieve. Maybe we should all think about investing in a horse and cart!