The MCIA reacts to petrol and diesel ban U-turn

The recent news that the UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunka was pushing back the ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles has been big news, dominating the headlines and causing a huge debate.

Rishi Sunak UK PM - Facebook

There are groups on both sides of the fence though, and while many industry and lobby groups are happy to see some sensible thinking going on in Parliament, others would prefer to see more consistent direction from the government.

It seems that four-wheel manufacturers, many of which are already much further along the road to electrification than their two-wheeled counterparts, are quite negative about the move, while motorcycle lobby groups, like the National Motorcyclists Council (NMC), are much more positive.

The MCIA seems to be behind the pushback from the PM, although when speaking to MCIA Chief Executive, Tony Campbell, he did urge some caution. On the one hand, it could give manufacturers a little more time to develop and enhance some technologies, but on the other, it could leave us out of sync with our closest neighbour - the EU.

Speaking exclusively to Visordown, he said:

“We are pushing the Government to think beyond just electrification as this should not be pre-determined by their policy. We need the Government to be more open-minded about net carbon fuels and to allow technology and innovation to find the right solution, not any binary policies that are easy for them to legislate.

“It is critical the UK does not fly solo when it comes to regulation in our sector, whilst the Automotive sector would prefer alignment with Europe, they accepted the 2030 date as the UK market is two million units per year and therefore not a problem (and also helps them gear up for the EU 2035 date). The automotives appear not happy, once the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate is published it won’t make any difference to them. What you are seeing now is pure politics.

“Our sector is circa 110 [thousand] to 120,000 units per year, if we are out of kilter with the EU; model ranges could potentially be reduced, or some manufacturers may not choose to be in the UK until other major markets align again, this is a big risk.”

In summary, most motorcycle groups seem to be more positive about the PM’s move, and this seems to be driven by them representing sectors that aren’t as far down the path of electrification. The electric car industry is fairly well established (even if the infrastructure isn’t), explaining this divide between the two-wheel and four-wheel manufacturers. There is also an argument for the type of people that motorcycle groups, such as the MCIA and NMC represent. Motorcycles often are the chosen form of transport for those on a lower income, and while in some cases a motorcycle can be an aspirational item, for a great number more it’s their commute to work, to the shops or their full-time education. There is an argument that a forced switch to electric power could hit lower-income members of the public much more than anyone else.

This is an updated page, originally published 20 September 2023, the original page can be seen below

The UK Prime Minster has this afternoon taken the decision to push back the ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles, moving from 2030, to 2035 as the new date the ban will come into force. 

The move comes after days of speculation, and at least means motorists have a clarity on when the ban will come into force.

This is a breaking news story and this page will be updated as more details come in.

The National Motorcyclists Council reacts

The National Motorcyclists Council has spoken out in favour of a potential U-turn on the 2030 deadline for the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles. 

When approached for comment, the National Motorcyclists Council told Visordown:

“News of Mr Sunak’s rethink on net zero is very welcome. We look forward to common sense decisions which bring the UK into line with international developments in respect of decarbonisation. 

“The NMC has long advocated that a sensible and pragmatic approach needs to be taken to motorcycle decarbonisation, working with international partners and supporting the development of a range of alternative technologies and fuels.  We look forward to working with Ministers and officials on a new approach, which develops sustainable and realistic options that fully support the 2050 net zero target.”

BBC News has cited "multiple sourses" from within Downing Street, which claim that a speech from Mr Sunak is due to arrive in the coming days related to changes to the government’s green agenda.

It’s reported that Mr Sunak is set to lay out "seven core policy changes" while maintaining that the UK is a world leader in the field of decarbonisation. Sunak's argument will be that the UK has been leading the way in reducing the its carbon output, even over-delivering when compared to some other global nations, making it possible for the national to amend several aspects of its green approach. Among other things these include pushing back the ban on the sale of petrol and diesel combustion-engined vehicles due in 2035.

The news comes just a day after the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) put out a statement saying it was "increasing sceptical" about decarbonisation plans, and asked the government to clarify how it planned to move forward when the infrastructure to do so is nowhere near up the level needed.

While many bikers will see this as a good thing, some MPs are worried that not pushing the UK into the electric era could cause the country to be left lagging behind the rest of the world, stifling jobs and preventing investment. The BBC reports that Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, called the rollback "economically illiterate, historically inaccurate and environmentally bone-headed". We do, though, wonder if Caroline has ever smelt a grid of two-stroke RD350s going past at full chat. That might change her mind.

There are some though that are happy to see the government considering things that, it seems, a lot of people want. One senior Conservative MP, who the BBC claims did not want to be named is reported to have said he is glad to see some "realism" from the PM on net zero.

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