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BUSINESS HELPDESK HELP DESK


INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE?


THE END OF THE


The Government’s consultation on ending the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans was high on the agenda of the summer BMF Transport and Distribution Forum. Following this, the BMF drafted a response which was sent to the Department for Transport, the main points of which are summarised here.


THE CONSULTATION AROSE as the Government wants to bring forward the ban on sales of these vehicles from 2040 to 2035 or earlier – the Committee on Climate Change is pushing for 2032 as the phase-out date, as is the Scottish Government. Of course, any ban should remove the most polluting cars and vans from our roads, but we have urged the DfT to take account of professional transport users, including builders merchants, to arrive at a balanced, realistic and defensible position. At the moment we seem a long way from mainstream manufacture of the electric vehicles the government is proposing and the infrastructure to support them.


Current government policy favours battery electric vehicles to replace the internal combustion engine, although there are other viable options. In 2019 only 1.6% of new cars were battery electric. It would require a huge jump for battery electric vehicles to be the majority of new sales in 2035 or even 2040. Is that possible? We are asking ministers also to consider alternative, equally valid solutions, such as fuel cell electric. Right now, the price of EVs is a major barrier to purchase. Electric cars and vans are more expensive than conventional vehicles and banning fossil fuels will not make them cheaper. Only mass production and technological advances will lower prices over time. Until then, it makes sense to extend existing financial incentives – including the Plug-In Car and Van Grant, Workplace Charging


8


Scheme and EV Homecharge Scheme – to encourage take up. Vans are central to business and another of our “asks” is for favourable tax treatment to help firms, especially SMEs modernise their fleets and replace older vans with cleaner, greener models. We also favour enhanced capital allowances to help vehicle manufacturers innovate in alternative power sources to transform the market and develop EVs capable of carrying goods without a loss in range, performance or payload. We know some BMF members plan to buy EVs when they become economically viable – and the ban may hasten their buying decisions if they are considering a 5 year plan. But the current high cost, lack of availability of suitable, compliant vehicles, and doubts about the availability and access


to charge points and refuelling stations make it difficult to look beyond diesel for those who are planning to replace vehicles in the short term.


Energy generation and Grid capacity is another concern, with serious long-term planning, preparation and investment urgently needed to meet projected demand with most electricity coming from renewables. In summary, ending the sale of new petrol diesel and hybrid cars and vans has consequences for BMF members. We have asked government for:


a) Clear, unambiguous and costed proposals with a timetable to define the policy end point, and b) Ways that they will help citizens and companies to get there. These proposals are a huge challenge for everyone and, while they are meant to tackle


exhaust emissions, there is another area that they cannot address, namely the rising numbers of vehicles on the road and the increase in journeys made. As it stands, alternatively powered cars and vans will still add to traffic congestion and to air pollution from brake, tyre and road surface abrasion emissions. BMJ


Have your say on this issue and others affecting transport within your business. The next BMF Transport and Distribution Forum webinar takes place on 25 November. Book your place at www.bmf.org.uk under the Events tab, or contact Richard.Ellithorne@ bmf.org.uk for more information.


www.buildersmerchantsjournal.net November 2020


Photo: Ivan Nedelchev


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