SIGN OF THE TIMES
The inevitable has been announced. The UK government have brought forward their combustion engine ban by 10 years to 2030. Time is running out.
I woke up one morning this week with a certain dark cloud looming over me. Not just from the winter weather, but our Boris's announcement that the UK would be banning the sale of all new Diesel and Petrol vehicles in 2030- 10 years earlier than planned. As I'm sure you can all sympathize this came as a huge blow and in many ways an insult to me, and it felt like a personal attack on the petrol head and every non- cyclist, vegan environmental-type out there. As a petrol head, i pray at the church of the internal combustion engine and hold up to all its values that are good and holy.-There's nothing better than a lumpy American big cammed V8 or the sound of "Tsu-tsu-tsu" as the turbo flutters on an RX7 at 8,000RPM. After the bombshell was dropped, i decided to pick apart the announcement and look at in a realistic manner. Here's what i came up with.
They couldn't organize a p*** up in a brewery!
Apologies for the language however this is a known fact of our government- and that's without getting political! Considering it has took the best part of 4 years and 3 Prime Ministers to sort out Brexit, (which they still haven't achieved) i struggle to see any member of parliament being able to literally change the infrastructure of an entire country. I'd also like to point out that London is one of the few UK cities that actually has an EV system however I'm yet to see Bozza and his colleagues rolling up in a Honda E or Nissan leaf. They just aren't worthy competitors for their Diesel Range Rover's and Jaaagggs right?
Aside from London, (and I'm sure a few other major cities) the country just is not set up for any kind of EV future. After travelling to the center of cities such as Manchester and Liverpool, even these major hubs have next to nothing in the way of charging points- or at least what would be required to provide for a whole city. Bringing this closer to home, i live in the rural north of England and there is not one charging point in my town and probably a handful in the county. As ever the North is forgotten about and the funding will probably run out before it reaches me in the first place (fingers crossed!) My local council can't fix a single pot hole that's been there for the past 5 years so good luck erecting thousands of charging posts across the town!
A False Economy
You heard me, a false economy. Now, there is no denying that the construction of a support network for electric vehicles will create jobs, however this isn't my issue. What's the purpose of the "Electric revolution?"- To be kinder to the environment and reduce pollution. Everything on the planet comes from natural source in some way and in the case of batteries this is Lithium. Lithium compound is mined in huge quantities and the pollution caused from mining the substance, correcting it and ultimately building the batteries creates just as much pollution as the current process. The same argument is given by the people against cutting down trees however strive for everything to be made from paper and cardboard as its "sustainable." Now, fuelling the vehicle once it is built is the current killer however electricity still needs to be produced in a power station to provide EV fuel anyway bringing it back to the first point. The construction and running process of these vehicles create just as much pollution as a I/C vehicle. See what I'm getting at?
You tell me when Caterpillar build a Electric Dump Truck that can move 400 tonnes in 1 load out of that mine without needing charged when it gets to the top.
These days, we live in a throwaway society. If a part fails it is not repaired, it is thrown away and replaced. in the case of most electric vehicles the car chassis and frame is built up of the batteries themselves so what will we do when our battery's fail as they inevitably will? Get a new car? Vehicle longevity is a big factor too. Anyone who has been under a car in the UK will know that even at only 5 years old they can be plagued with rust underneath thanks to rain and salt, leading to the demise of many cars over time. As rusty as they may be, nothing stands up to the clock better than an old Land Rover and there's nothing a welder and some cable ties won't fix. Add a chassis of batteries and more wiring than ever before and this may be a more complex issue. These cars are not cheap as it is and as technology increases, so will price. People will want their car to stand the test of time and I'm not quite sure these will. That's if the average person can afford one that is! If we can't afford an EV it will be eye watering tax on traditional cars leaving us all out of pocket. Our country will be paying for Covid the rest of my lifetime and this is a cost we do not need.
HGV- ENEMY NUMBER ONE
One area of the automotive industry I'm well versed in and can give a better view than most on is the road transport sector. Most members of the public, as well as the media, have a vendetta against commercial vehicles however the simple truth is without them you wouldn't have any of the items you have in front of you. Don't like trucks then don't buy stuff. Simple. The media and activists take great pride in telling you that trucks are single handedly destroying the environment however with nothing to back this up however this is not the case. Current European Truck manufacturers develop their engines to the "Euro 6" emissions guideline- the most up to date specification. A Euro 6 truck creates next to zero emissions making them cleaner than I'd say 80% of cars on the road. Even a Euro 5 truck from 10 years ago can match up to these ratings! For reference, a full Euro 6 HGV exhaust system costs around £15,000 thanks to all of the after treatment technology included in them so when people say that they are destroying the environment take a look at your own vehicle for a second because unless its a bicycle I'm pretty sure its the other way round.
Commercial vehicles are currently heavily taxed for traveling into London to make their deliveries however without them the city would shut down. It would be interesting to see a HGV boycott of London and see how long the city can last. As far as electric trucks are concerned, my own manufacturer DAF have trialed a selection of Electric CF tractor units tailored towards local and city work. An excellent concept in this situation, however once the vehicle gets some real weight on its back and has to travel a long distance or on rough terrain, charge will be drained instantly. The CF pictured above has a range of 100 miles so completely useless apart from in a city Centre. I'm yet to see the day an Electric truck can run fresh produce from the top of Scotland or The continent into the London markets on a single charge but hey, time will tell.
As anyone can tell you who has lifted a 12v car battery, they are heavy. If you have ever lifted a HGV 12V battery, they are REALLY heavy! now imagine the weight of batteries needed to move a vehicle weighing already 8-9 tons on its own, then its trailer, then its load and so on. At this point vehicle weight restrictions will also need to be lifted by at least 2-3 tons from the current 44 ton limit to allow for the battery weight and keep the same payload. The roads also need to be in a serviceable condition to take heavier and larger vehicles. All things that the government will not consider however is vital to the success of the scheme.
On the tools
For my final point today, something that will effect me directly. My job. I recently completed my apprenticeship as a Heavy vehicle mechanic learning the ins and outs of the modern Diesel engine. In 10 years time all my training will be defunct and millions of techs across the world will need to adapt to survive and re-learn a completely new means of propulsion. As a dealership technician, this training will be provided, however what about the private and smaller garages that cannot afford to re-train their staff to the new way of the world? This drastic change will see the fall of thousands of smaller garages across the country as the funding just won't be there for them. Of course, it's not like the I/C engine will just stop existing, but as things evolve many places just will not be able to keep up. The current world of cars is full of sensors and electronics, vehicles have increased unbelievably in the last 20 years, i can't imagine what we will have by 2040, however manufacturers have pretty much already phased out the "weekend warrior" home mechanic will computer systems only decipherable via a dealers computer. With the world of EV's, the home mechanic will all but die.
No matter what your view on the electric revolution, its here to stay whether you like it or not. Many people will hold an opposite opinion to this article and many will agree with me, its a matter of taste and personal experience. It's not that I'm against change- in fact i embrace it!- however looking at the situation from a frontline perspective it's being looked at with a rose tinted view instead of one of technicalities and problem solving. It is no joke that climate change exists and something needs to be done to help however we cannot change the way our lives are lived at this point. The only way to reverse the process is to live like cavemen again and i don't think even Greta is willing to do that! She has climate protests in America to FLY to after all. The concept of electric cars is brilliant and I'm sure we will all learn to love them but we just aren't there yet. There is a long winding road ahead and it will take real planning and cooperation to get to the end of it. What can you do now about it though? My best advice is hoard your cars you have now, buy those dream cars while you can and keep them for a lifetime as chances are they will be harder to come by- and for a hefty fee! I am sure that one day i will "need" one however i will forever have a petrol heart and diesel in my veins.