Small volume car makers have more breathing space ahead of delayed ICE ban
Small volume car makers having more breathing space ahead of delayed ICE ban is no bad thing, says Matt Prior
Such a long time ago darling, I know, but do you remember then energy secretary Grant Shapps talking about the 2030 pure-combustion car ban?
“We’ve always been more forward-leaning on this stuff than the EU,” he said, a whole 182 days and two cabinet jobs ago. But if you thought then that his words sounded like nothing more than glibness and bluster, it turns out you were right.
There’s plenty of news and analysis elsewhere in this mag on the week’s zero-emission realignment, so I won’t dwell on what it means for mainstream car makers and energy sellers, whose reaction is dependent on how it affects their bottom line: JLR is pleased it will have more time to develop an electric Range Rover that doesn’t require an HGV license; others are upset because the British buy expensive new cars.
A few words, though, if I may, on the specialist car sector. In March, Shapps was talking about a proposal whose small print said micromanufacturers, even those registering just a handful of cars per year, needed to fall into line with the big players in 2030.
A kit car built in your shed in 2031, then, would have needed to be zero-emission, despite its overall environmental impact being minuscule even if petrol-powered yet likely worse, even over the longer term, if it used today’s battery tech.
Britain has the best specialist car makers, and more of them, than anywhere else in the world. And for them, the UK market and its legislation are critical and far from being a minor spreadsheet readjustment.
Now – or ‘for now’, perhaps, because it turns out that proposals due to come into force in 2024 hadn’t even been finalised, let alone those that will now arrive a decade later at best – it seems they can take stock.
Micro-manufacturers are dependent on big companies to supply their technology. There are exemptions in EU legislation, which the UK might eventually opt to follow, that will let them move to new energy when it improves the product by being available at the right price and the right weight. That, at least, whatever the rights and wrongs of the rest of it, is sensible.
The Stonehenge conundrum
The West Country roadside megalith complex that is Stonehenge re-entered the news this week because Unesco – which regards the monument as a World Heritage Site – thinks the proposed A303 tunnel that will run beneath the place is worse news than the way the current road layout runs. Or, rather frequently, doesn’t run.
Campaigners are thrilled, for they oppose the development, albeit often using disingenuous distraction and subterfuge such as claiming that the tunnel will only reduce the average journey time from Guildford to St Ives by eight minutes, while surely knowing full well that the average time isn’t the problem. Peak time delays are the issue, most notably for those who live locally and have to make the journey with sufficient regularity that the congestion blights their lives and affects their businesses.
The A303 runs poorly in several places, but plenty of locals think the traffic problem around Stonehenge is particularly bad because many drivers slow down to have a look at the stones as they pass.
If we are, then, to endure another legal challenge to the tunnel proposal – and it seems that we must – can we not use the time to plant some hedges or leylandii that will block the view from the road and see if that resolves the issue to everyone’s satisfaction?
If it doesn’t, for the sake of the south-west, we’ve got to spend a few quid and get on with something.