The UK Government has revealed plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 followed by the same sanctions being placed on all hybrid vehicles five years later, in 2035.
The move is part of the UK Government’s £12 billion strategy for stimulating green industry and quite naturally has caused huge concern within the motor industry. The UK Government has promised a £1.3 billion investment in establishing a charging infrastructure across the country to service the demands of the new electric vehicles.
The move suggests that Government policy will still support the use of private vehicles as a mode of daily transport, but not when they are required to be powered by fossil fuels.
The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs must consider the implications of this policy on the historic vehicle movement from the point of view of our need to focus solely on protecting the freedoms to use heritage transport on the UK’s roads, unhindered. The Federation is not concerning itself with debating the ‘for and against’ arguments around certain technologies and power sources for new vehicles used purely for commuting and functional transportation purposes.
Indeed, it may well be that in a couple of decade’s time, the early Nissan Leaf and Tesla models for example will be joining the ranks of historically important vehicles and referred to as ‘classic cars.’
The Federation recognises there are already a significant number of electric vehicles represented within the historic vehicle community and some examples of these were displayed on the ‘Village Green’ area of the NEC Classic Motor Show in 2019 on the Federation stand. The exhibits included a 1912 Baker Electric Car, 1974 Zagato Zele and a 1940 Moteur Électrique created by the French manufacturer Lucien Rosengart as a direct replacement for the Austin 7 engine he used in the cars built under license in Paris. In the early part of the twentieth century electric vehicles made up a larger proportion of the total vehicles on the road than they do today. In 1900, 20 per cent of cars on the roads in the USA were electric and iconic manufacturers such as Studebaker actually entered the market initially building electric vehicles.
So, we must recognise that electric vehicles have been as much a part of the history and heritage of road transport as they are its future.
The main focus points of the Federation’s activities in light of the announcement of the intended 2030 ban on the sale of new ICE vehicles will be limited to:
a) Ensuring the ban on new vehicles does not extend to restrictions on the use of pre-existing vehicles powered by fossil fuels. In particular, historic vehicles over 30 years old and ‘future historic vehicles’ yet to reach the rolling 30-year classification of historic.
b) Monitoring the effects of changing mainstream consumer demand for petrol and diesel on the accessibility and affordability of fuel supplies for vehicles requiring fossil fuels.
c) Lobbying for the protection of fossil fuel supplies long into the future to service historic vehicles.
The Federation urges caution amongst the historic vehicle community not to ‘panic’ that historic vehicles are in some way about to be made obsolete or unusable as a result of the announcement of these intended UK Government bans. As the 2020 National Historic Vehicle Survey has revealed, there are more than 1.5 million historic vehicles registered in the UK and therefore they represent a material element of our National Heritage. Additionally, the historic vehicle sector contributes a huge £7.2 billion to the UK economy through highly skilled jobs that will be a vital part of the regeneration of the UK’s economy post- pandemic and post- Brexit.
Despite that huge financial input into the health of our country, the National Historic Vehicle Survey also shows us that the use of historic vehicles only contributes to 0.2% of the total annual miles driven in the UK. That amount of road use is very small in the overall aim to reduce carbon emissions to levels safe for the health and future of the planet. Nonetheless, the Federation recently appointed an Environmental Director on our board, tasked specifically with monitoring, offsetting and measuring the carbon output of the historic vehicle movement.
The strength in numbers that the historic vehicle community enjoys will help to ensure that we cannot be ignored or hindered without significant financial implications for the country. If we work together as a sector to encourage continued health, growth and skills for the future – the movement stands every chance of survival and the future of historic vehicles powered by internal combustion engines will be secured, regardless of what technology has in store for the future of road transport.
To read the facts behind why the Historic Vehicle community is part of the answer to build the UK economy into the future and why the sector deserves a bright future, you can read the National Historic Vehicle Survey results from 2020 online now at https://www.fbhvc.co.uk/