It’s a subject close to the heart of many and, with the extinction of the internal combustion engine due in just 13 years’ time, what does the road ahead for classic vehicles look like?
The 2035 deadline for all new cars on sale to be EVs is already casting a long shadow and, as motor manufacturers accelerate plans to place plug-in models in showrooms, we know FJ clients have their concerns. We wanted to find out what they thought when it came to owning a classic going forward and, without any prompting, we quickly had some answers that summed up a large portion of the community’s fears.
Clair said she feared classics being, “phased out due to an increase in the promotion of electric vehicles,” while Margaret talked about the concern that, “the present fuel may soon be redundant and the availability of another could be in doubt.” There wasn’t wholesale contempt for EVs, and Jake spoke for many when he said: “I'm all for EV conversions and keeping the planet green but, not only does my business depend on being able to run V8s, the car community does too.”
It's important to stay calm and not break out the smelling salts just yet. There’s been some fear mongering but, as it stands, there are no plans to ban conventional vehicles in 2035. The rules will apply to the sale of brand-new vehicles, but that’s it.
Rachel Maclean, the Conservative MP and minister responsible for transport decarbonisation, has stated on record that the Government is supportive of the classic vehicle community and understands its importance. In an interview with Autocar last year, she explained current plans. “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 cars or older cars from the road.”
So, if it’s not all doom and gloom, what are we facing? The sheer weight of numbers will come into play. For example, there are around 35 million cars on the road in the UK, with roughly 59% running on petrol and around 38% on diesel, consuming over 15 billion litres of fuel between them every year. The average age of vehicles on the road is rising, so these cars are going nowhere fast, and the supply of conventional fuels will have to continue.
Even so, with fossil fuels persona non grata, modern technology may come to the rescue. There’s gathering momentum behind synthetic fuels and, as manufacturers like Porsche put weight behind development, that could allow the combustion engine to carry on regardless. Although expensive per litre right now, these fuels consist of hydrocarbons created using hydrogen from water and carbon from the air, and many think they can be produced at scale in a sustainable manner.
The adage of, ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’, may also prove sage. Manufacturers are starting to get misty eyed about their heritage models, and figuring out how that can continue in an AC/DC world. Last month MINI unveiled its Recharged project, allowing a classic Mini to be given a new lease of sustainable life. Installing a modern electric motor with up to 90 kW of power, Issigonis’ icon design will accelerate from 0 to100 km/h in approximately nine seconds and deliver a predicted range of around 160 kilometres. Obviously, a donor car is needed, but during the conversion the original engine of each vehicle is marked and stored so it can be restored to the car later.
Maybe this approach is the best of both worlds.
What do you think the future has in store for classics? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.