11th August 2021

Are classic vehicles going to be banned?

In May, the Historic and Classic Vehicles Alliance suggested more than 100,000 skilled jobs were at risk as the £18.3bn industry bowed under the weight of red tape and ‘poorly-focused environmental legislation.’

With the ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles never far from the headlines, it’s hard for classic vehicle owners not to feel they might soon find themselves in the environmental firing line.

However, Rachel Maclean, the minister responsible for the government’s transport decarbonisation plans, sought to reassure classic owners in an interview with Autocar, saying: “It’s important to be clear that while we’re phasing out the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles, at this stage we don’t have any plans to actually ask people to remove existing or classic vehicles… from the road. Hopefully I can say this and reassure people.”

Many enthusiasts are currently grappling with issues surrounding the introduction of E10 petrol, but on this issue, too, she promised the government was listening: “We want to be very clear that we do consider the needs of classic vehicles and their drivers, because it’s a big part of their lives.”

Maclean drives an electric Jaguar I-Pace and has experienced first-hand the patchy charging infrastructure. “We’re going to be laying new legislation about the requirements we’re going to put on operators later this year,” she said, outlining requirements for contactless payments, data sharing, and cost transparency.

That bodes well for the growing number of enthusiasts who turn to electric propulsion to keep their classic on the road, and while battery power has captured the imagination of many, Maclean was keen to paint a technology-agnostic picture: “We don’t prescribe one technology over another, but it’s a fact that some technologies have been accelerated beyond others.”

She acknowledged hydrogen and synthetic fuels have a role to play in transport’s decarbonisation, although Maclean suggested these were more likely to be used in HGVs, air travel and shipping, as “those sectors are hard to decarbonise.”

But for those who prefer to keep their historic vehicles as their makers intended, Maclean’s remarks give cause for a brighter outlook. “The classic vehicle community is a really important group,” she reiterated, “and a really important part of the whole picture.”

Research by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs showed the average UK classic vehicle travels only 1,200 miles and emits just 563kg of CO2 in a year – less than half the emissions of using a mobile phone over the same period.

What would you do in the government’s position? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

As most of the polluting cars have nothing to recommend them apart from their utility, I hope we'll see that the transition to mainly electric (and possibly hydrogen-powered) vehicles as a form of mass transport will leave many classic cars untouched. It might be necessary to have a form of tax applied with specific mention of the historical value of the vehicle -- or perhaps a grading system like the one we have now for buildings of interest and importance. I've owned many so-called classic cars (Moggie Minors, Ford Anglias, MG Midgets, Jags) which were a real pain to maintain and really unreliable. As long as we're sensible about preserving good examples -- and enabling people to do so -- what's wrong with clearing a lot of terrible examples of automotive design from the road? I've owned an Allegro, a Marina, a Lada, a Peugeot 504, a Viva, a Ford Escort and a Capri and they were all rubbish. I have a twelve-year-old Fiat Panda which has been more reliable than them all. Let's make sure that we protect what's important and look at the rest in a museum.

Kant1781, 19/08/2021

Owning and running old and classic vehicles will probably fade away a little bit more with each new generation...a bit as it does now really. New technology arrives and is promoted and old stuff gets left behind for just a few with the interest and the resources to keep it going. Maybe the classic vehicle rental business will expand ?.....who knows?

pinkdog, 18/08/2021

Saab96, (144/08/2021) Hits the nail right on the head, classics are both a boon for the economy and they are already carbon neutral, a win-win unless your head is up your behind.

IROC 350, 17/08/2021