Automakers Gang Up Against ICE Bans

An automaker-backed report has attacked the UK government’s bringing forward of a ban on new internal combustion engined cars.

The report into the future of the nation’s automotive industry called for a more meaningful approach to decarbonising transportation taking into account the production processes on top of vehicle emissions data. In fact, it said the government’s sledge-hammer announcement to ban new ICE vehicles by 2030 “wasn’t helpful”.

It points to the latest production data that shows the manufacture of battery electric vehicles generates 63% more CO2 than its gasoline or diesel equivalent. The report commissioned by automotive giants including Honda, Aston Martin, Bosch and McLaren, Decarbonising Road Transport: There is no Silver Bullet, encourages manufacturers to follow the lead of Polestar and Volkswagen in being more transparent about the emissions generated during the production of each model.

The report also warned of the desperate need to address the legacy fleet of 40M vehicles on UK roads, 10% of which are more than 20 years old. In a panel debate to coincide with its launch, a survey of industry attendees said 52% didn’t believe the UK could be a credible leader in new technologies because other governments were investing more around the world.

It also called for cars to bear an energy performance certificate (EPC) much like that used to assess a property’s energy efficiency. Backing this suggestion, former Aston Martin chief Andy Palmer said it was vital to understand there were many routes to net zero. “You can demand zero CO2 from the tailpipe but a lot of CO2 is then produced in manufacturing,” he said. “And while synthetic fuels are not CO2-free at the tailpipe, they can be at production and expulsion. There are lots of solutions and it’s important we make that distinction.”

Dr Uwe Gackstatter, president of Bosch Powertrain Solutions, demanded governments leave engineers to come up with the solutions. “When JFK said America was going to put a man on the moon he didn’t say what sort of rocket the astronauts would be in and what sort of fuel it had to use, he left that up to the engineers and scientists. The UK has perfect conditions for wind and therefore hydrogen, and it also has excellent engineers. The government needs to motivate and support them.”

The report concluded: “Making all new vehicles zero emissions at the tailpipe only works if the energy grid is zero emission, it also only addresses those new vehicles sold each year (circa 2m per annum in 2019), whereas introducing renewable fuels impacts on all vehicles in the car park, circa 40M.
“There is a golden opportunity in a post-Brexit, post-corona virus world for the UK to become the global leader in state of the art zero emission technology, but we must find a way to support both the technology development and the industrial development that follows.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


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