Many motorists own or aspire to own a classic car. It’s like having a piece of history, connecting car lovers to the nostalgia of the past and helping to keep our history alive. But with talk of banning petrol and diesel cars being passed around the corridors of Westminster in a bid to slow climate change, what does the future hold for these beloved relics of the past?
Here, we’ll be exploring whether the future has a place for classic cars, taking a look at what the government has said on the issue of banning petrol and diesel, and assessing some of the biggest concerns classic car owners have about what may lie in store for their pride and joy.
Will Petrol and Diesel Cars Be Banned?
In continuing efforts to reduce carbon emissions, the government has set ambitious targets which extend to all aspects of life – not least cars and the way we travel. By 2040, all new cars sold in the UK will be zero-emission vehicles; it will be illegal to sell cars that run on petrol or diesel alone, though hybrids are exempt.
While few would argue with the government’s drive to reduce carbon emissions, moving away from petrol and diesel will be a colossal shift. You only need to look at the slow take-up of electric cars to see the monumental challenge that lies ahead, and that’s before you’ve factored in the logistics and practicalities of getting the whole country driving zero-emission vehicles in just 20 years.
The problem is that electric cars remain an unknown entity to the average driver. We all know the environmental benefits of zero-emission cars, but from a practical standpoint, petrol and diesel remain the go-to fuels for most drivers. You can read a bit more about the different options in our blog here.
If electric cars were more affordable and everyone had a means of charging one, the switch to zero-emissions would be much simpler. But until prices come down and the impracticality of recharging is addressed, we can’t see the average motorist making the switch anytime soon.
That said, if the government is to be believed, the days of petrol and diesel are numbered. So, where does that leave people unwilling or unable to switch to zero-emissions? Classic car collectors, for example?
One thing to note about the government’s statement on banning petrol and diesel cars by 2040 is that it only applies to new car sales, not cars already on the road. That means classic car collectors may not have to worry about handing over the keys to their pride and joy just yet.
But it does raise concerns that this could happen in the future, beyond 2040. As the realities of climate change unfold over the next two decades, we could see tougher legislation come into force on how people consume fossil fuels, with restrictions and limits on the use of petrol and diesel.
And even if petrol and diesel cars aren’t banned completely, classic car owners could still feel the effects, even indirectly. In the next section, we’ll look at some of the key concerns that classic car owners might have about the future of petrol and diesel.
What Are the Biggest Concerns About the Ban on Petrol and Diesel Cars?
Fuel Availability and Price
One of the biggest concerns people have about the government’s plan to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars is that petrol and diesel may be slowly phased out, or may become too expensive to justify the cost.
Some fear that the government will hike the tax on petrol and diesel, making it substantially pricier per litre. There’s also the worry that they could be phased out altogether, particularly if electric cars make big inroads over the next 20 years and start to replace petrol and diesel cars on the road.
From a classic car collector’s standpoint, this may not be such bad news. Most classic cars are driven fairly infrequently, so they don’t use a lot of fuel. What’s more, we’re guessing that if you own a classic, it’s likely a strong passion.
Drop in Value
Most classic cars hold their residual value well, and the rarest and most highly-prized models can prove to be a substantial nest egg. But the worry is that a move away from petrol and diesel could reduce the value of vintage cars, with the next generation of drivers more interested in clean, efficient vehicles than classics.
If the costs associated with owning a petrol or diesel car go up substantially, this could have a huge effect on the value of classic motors. Some people may see an older car as a bad investment in an age where petrol and diesel are seen as the villains, and zero-emission fuels as the heroes.
On the flip side, it could have the opposite effect. Petrol and diesel cars may become even more desirable, with people keener than ever to get their hands on a piece of history. On this point, only time will tell.
There is also an argument to be made about keeping existing cars on the road. Manufacturing new cars has a big environmental impact, so keeping as many current cars on the road as possible could limit the effects. It surely makes sense to allow existing cars to see out their days naturally and then replace them with new models as and when they are required.
Blanket Ban on Petrol and Diesel Cars in the Future
It’s not hard to imagine that the proposed ban on new petrol and diesel cars could be the first step in a gradual phasing-out of petrol and diesel cars altogether. As environmental groups continue to press the government to take decisive action on climate change, more measures will likely be introduced to reduce emission. We’re seeing an increase in clean air zones, and this could perhaps culminate in a blanket ban on petrol and diesel engines.
While this isn’t something to be concerned about until way down the line, it may be something that people thinking of buying a classic car as a long-term investment need to consider. It’s becoming increasingly clear that tough action is needed to tackle the effects of climate change, so banning petrol and diesel cars altogether isn’t beyond the realms of possibility.
Some owners are already pre-empting the changes and converting classic cars to hybrids – while expensive, fully converting your classic to a zero-emissions vehicle could be a way to preserve it in the future.
What Do the Experts Say?
While we can only speculate on what the future might have in store for petrol and diesel cars, some classic car experts have had their say on the issue, including FIVA, the Féderation Internationalise des Véhicules Anciens, which is the worldwide governing body of historic motoring clubs.
As quoted by Carbuyer, FIVA said that they’re voicing the concerns of classic car owners to all governments, and requesting a change in tack on how they approach the issue. They believe in:
- No bans, but co-existence on public roads, so fuel/electric and manual/(partly) automated are all allowed on public roads, as a principle
- A freedom of choice for individual mobility, as people need to be able to continue the use of the vehicles of their choice, as long as they are roadworthy, and are driven responsibly
- An appreciation of the importance of preservation of mobile heritage, because of its cultural and economic value
- An awareness that the historic vehicle movement is a way of life, a world of thousands of clubs, thousands of meets and millions of enthusiasts worldwide, who see way beyond material values
- The acceptance of mobility as a pleasure, as against mobility being seen as a problem
We think a lot of classic car owners would agree with the FIVA’s stance, but will it be enough to preserve the future of classic cars? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this decisive issue, so if you’d like to join in the conversation, head to the Redex Club Facebook group channel and sign-up today.
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