sucker punch
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Government lands sucker punch on EVs and PHEVs

The Business Motoring Week October 12, 2018

WHO saw this one coming? Not us. We’re still reeling, blindsided by the Government’s new Plug-in Car Grant announcement last night.

And if you have questions marks floating around your head about Government policy towards clean air, then count us in, too.

Just what is it doing? The Government’s Road to Zero Emissions is all about decarbonising our roads. So is this a pay-off for the freezing of fuel duty? While all business motorists will welcome the latter, if this is a pay-off it’s got me completely flummoxed over the clean air policy.

Year on year Alternative Fuel Vehicles are up by nearly 22% according to SMMT stats. Which is great. But market share is only 6%. That’s not much. Such ultra low emission vehicles still have a long way to go.

VW-e-Golf-moving
Electric motoring in an e-Golf: brilliant fun, but adoption needs to be wider

Electrification is taking baby steps. People are beginning to get the idea of electric cars. Those in the automotive industry are more readily accepting of such new technology because they are in the business (I’m driving an e-Golf pictured above and it’s brilliant); but the general public is still wary, suspicious: issues of range, infrastructure, price.

Ah, price.

Mitsubishi 2019 Outlander PHEV_V2
Mitsubishi: surprised and disappointed

New tech doesn’t come cheap. But Plug-in Electric Hybrid cars (PHEVs) are a good first step towards full electrification (provided they are used properly of course – EV mode in cities, and then battery recharged). Little wonder that Mitsubishi, market leader in PHEVs, expressed its “surprise and disappointment at the decision”.

Behind the scenes one can only wonder at the exasperation and disbelief at Mitsubishi HQ. Nice bit of forward consulting there OLEV (the Government department responsible for the Plug-in Car Grant).

Lex Autolease, the UK’s biggerst leasing company, is usually highly measured in its announcements. Tim Porter, Managing Director, said:

Tim Porter Lex Autolease
Tim Porter Lex Autolease

“For the government’s Road to Zero targets to be achievable, we need to see almost a 23-fold increase in Ultra Low Emission Vehicle uptake, and incentives like the Plug-In Car Grant are key to making this possible.  

“While the grant for Zero Emission Vehicles will continue – albeit with smaller contributions available for drivers – the 2030 target relates to both Ultra Low and Zero Emission Vehicles. This means there is still a role for plug-in hybrids to play which is key, given there are also still relatively few Zero Emission Vehicles on the market.”

“Product and infrastructure availability aside, plug-in vehicles can be seen as prohibitively expensive for many. Incentives are an important way of making them more accessible and appealing.”

So far so good. But the thinly veiled criticism – and disillusionment with the announcement – is pretty clear as he continues:

“At the recent Zero Emission Vehicle Summit we announced a £1m fund which will offer contributions of £1,000 towards the first 1,000 pure electric vehicle orders placed with us from January 2019 – we are pleased to be going some way to make up the shortfall and supporting UK drivers to achieve 25 million more zero emission miles in the next five years.”

Ouch!

We’ve all been taken aback by this announcement. Whatever your standpoint, it has to be retrogressive. And further reinforces the growing suspicion this Government is clueless  about car policy.

Project Eifel Geist TransporterTransporter beats unofficial Ring record

OK, away from politics. Let’s get onto the fun stuff. And nothing gets more fun than this: BTCC racer Rob Austin turning his tin top racing skills to bigger tin and getting the VW Transporter around the infamous Nurburgring in record time.

Click on this link to view the video (go on, you deserve it after getting this far!).

MINI SportMINI shakes up trim choice for simplicity

MINI has made choosing one of the great little runabouts easier for business motorists and consumers alike. By standardising on three new trims. MINI says you can choose your next MINI in five easy steps. Click here for more.

I suspect we’ll see more of this as a result of the WLTP testing effect. BMW Group has got all its cars through the testing early. And while WLTP should give us a better idea of fuel economy and CO2 emissions than before, it does mean everything has to be taken into account – including accessories. So expect more ‘packaging’ from manufacturers in the future.

SsangYong 7 year warrantySsangYong goes for long, long warranty that leads the industry

Good news for business motorists is this announcement from SsangYong, heralded on our sister title Motor Trade News: the longest warranty on the market.

The Musso pick-up was launched with the seven-year warranty; but now SsangYong has gone for more. Find out more here.

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