December 5, 2018

The Classic Motor Trade & The Electric Revolution

A change is on its way – customers are starting to swap to alternative fuels as they look to a petrol and diesel-driven-free future. In light of this, we ask the question, what must classic dealers and traders be aware of as buying habits and government plans change?


This year, the government announced plans to ban the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars by 2040 and are under continuing pressure to bring this deadline forward to 2032. The main driver behind this ban is poor air quality. Air pollution has been cited by the BBC as the biggest environmental risk to public health in the UK and is thought to be linked to around 40,000 premature deaths each year.

To help improve air quality, an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will be introduced in London from April 8, 2019. If your vehicle does not meet the required emissions standards, you’ll be subject to a daily levy of £12.50 on top of the Congestion Charge of £11.50. With a potential £24-a-day bill, it is inevitable that the capital’s car owners, or those who visit regularly, will be looking to change their vehicle. This ULEZ may also have implications reaching much further than the capital. If the government views the ULEZ as a success, then there's a very real possibility that zones will be introduced in other large cities in the UK.


These upcoming regulations may seem like a long way away, but they will certainly make cars which run on alternative fuels a more attractive proposition for potential new car buyers. After all, the cars of today could be the modern classics of the future and keeping an eye on long-term trends could be hugely beneficial as a dealer.

For instance, could the Nissan Leaf join the ranks of the Fiat 500 or the Mini in the future? You may scoff at the idea, but you may remember that in September 2018, a 1990 Ford Sierra Sapphire Cosworth sold for an unprecedented £70,875. How many people would have predicted that these cars would be so popular in 2018 when they originally rolled off the production line?

As a motor trader, you’ll know all too well that keeping an eye on market trends allows you to be ahead of the curve and reap the potential rewards.


If electric cars are the potential classics of the future, then it’s likely that you will need to adapt your workforce to meet the requirements of this technology. We all know that classic car restorers and mechanics have a specialist set of skills that are getting increasingly hard to come by. But while work is underway to address this skills gap by organisations like Heritage Skills Academy based in Bicester Heritage, could working with alternative fuel types be the next challenge for the industry? If the classic cars of the future are powered by electricity, then being able to work with this technology will become a vital skill for future restorers.

This may seem like a problem restorers and traders will only need to face in twenty or thirty years’ time, but people aren't just finding new electric cars attractive...


It was a huge publicity boost for electric classic conversions when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle departed their royal wedding in silence thanks to the Jaguar E-Type Zero. In fact, a poll we conducted on social media a few months after the event resulted in 32% of respondents telling us that they thought electric conversions for classics were a good idea. While opinion on this issue is still very much divided, one person polled commented that "being able to convert a vehicle which has become very much a part of the family to a more future-proofed version would be lovely". With government clamp downs on emissions gathering pace, perhaps electric conversions will become a way for people to ensure that their classic is passed on to future generations, and not left to the scrap heap.

Right now, you’ll be aware of companies such as Jaguar Classic offering these conversions, as well as a small pool of people selling conversion kits for customers to install at home. But if the electric conversion movement continues to gather pace, could these conversions could be offered more commonly? Perhaps one day, classic electric conversions could be as popular as classic car restorations.

With almost two decades before we reach a potential emissions-free future, the impact of electric vehicles on the classic motor trade may not be felt immediately. However, change is certainly on its way and it’s worth evaluating the possible implications now.

What do you think the future holds for classic traders and dealerships? Let us know in the comments below!