Big Brother bans the combustion engine and here is why it won't work
This is going to be another cock-up ...
There will be some people who support the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's ban of new cars powered only by petrol and diesel in 2030 - it's probably good for the environment, creates a bunch of new jobs and gives the government plenty of new and exciting ways to collect tax from us - like the proposed road tax (whoopee).
And don't get me wrong - I support smart ideas to fix the nightmare of global warming. But this ban is not a smart idea in my humble opinion. Here is why:
I thought we had a free market?
If the goal is to change consumer behaviour then produce something better and cheaper and we will buy it.
Fund new innovation by all means, give tax breaks, market the benefits, keep cracking down on emissions - do all that - but please do not start creating laws that restrict our freedom of choice - give us a better choice instead and let our dollars and pounds do the talking.
Market forces are enough to generate change. The reason we are not all driving around in electric vehicles today is because they are just not as good a product for all people as a combustion powered vehicle.
Electric vehicles work today for city cars with good local charging infrastructure to do the shopping and pick up the kids. However, EVs are more expensive, they do not hold resale value and there is not enough charging infrastructure.
Battery power is not suitable for all transportation - there are no battery solutions for big heavy long distance vehicles like RVs and Campervans. Electric motorcycles are short on range and drop charge quickly in cold weather. Range anxiety will kick in quickly if you decide to go for a long trip through some beautiful mountain roads. Electric vehicles are good for some things, but not everything.
This can all be fixed, probably, but if you shove a substandard product onto the market before it is ready it will not be a success - and legislation will annoy rather than motivate consumers.
This is going to be a cock-up, guaranteed
How many broad, big, bold statements from politicians like "we will ban the combustion engine in 2030" actually work? None. Plans like this which are generated for political purposes are universally late, cost way more than planned and deliver a tiny amount of what the initial promise was. Where are the experts in this announcement?
Where is the support from all the major manufacturers and infrastructure providers?
Should we not be seeing peer reviewed academic research papers, insight into how consumers will react from consumer marketing experts, an understanding of the financial impact from the economists, a transparent plan before setting a date from the people who actually manufacture vehicles? Where are the people who can answer simple questions like - what happens to all the existing cars on the road and who pays for all of this?
We vote in politicians to make smart decisions - but you can only popularise a smart decision if smart people have advised you, you actually listen to them and you are transparent with the general public as to the pros and cons of a major decision like banning the combustion engine.
Driving is a passion
Don't demonise our passion, bring us along for the ride
Beneath the reasoning lies emotion. Some of the most beautiful, wonderful bits of engineering and design have gone into vehicles. Many of us love our cars and bikes - we all fondly reminisce over our ownership history and think about our future vehicles with excitement.
Cars are not kitchen white goods. I could not tell you one thing about any dishwasher I've ever owned - but I can talk with passion about my first car - a battered old 2CV and my dream that one day Mazda will offer me a proper engine for my MX5.
If you want to move the market, bring us along. Let Ford experiment with an electric Mustang, let Harley-Davidson launch an electric motorbike, do more TV shows like Apple's The Long Way Up.
The journey is more important than the destination. I suspect many of us will react badly to being "told what to do" but most of us support the environment and want a solution that we will love to drive - not a solution that we are forced to drive. There is an entire multi-billion dollar industry that knows how to sell us on the passion of vehicles - let them bring us along for the ride instead of some politician telling us what he wants us to do.
This needs to be a conversation, not a law
This is an important debate, the planet is screwed and combustion engines are a major problem. But, smart solutions are needed not knee-jerk political statements. Let's find a solution that works with real experts working with the public and not go down the path of more laws, more rules and more legislation.
And to support that conversation - here is an alternative opinion in the latest article from DriveTribe Editor Tim Rodie:
Let everyone know what you think in the comments below.