UK’s clean car goal ‘not ambitious enough’, says professor

Posted: May 21, 2018 by oldbrew in Emissions, Energy, government, opinion, pollution, Travel


One of the sub-headings to this BBC News story is ‘Push and go faster’. That really would be a fuel saver if it worked 😉

The government’s ambition to clean up motor vehicles by 2040 is not ambitious enough, a leading energy expert says.

Professor Jim Watson, head of the prestigious UK Energy Research Centre, said the target should be at least five years earlier, as in Scotland.

The government is currently considering obliging new cars to run on electricity for at least 50 miles by 2040.

The government said it would not discuss the issue before it had published its policy which is due soon.

But ministers are facing competing pressures on the issue. Some UK car firms are telling ministers their proposed targets are unachievable, while others say the targets can easily be reached.

Push and go faster

Professor Watson, who started working life as a car engineer, says the motor industry has a history of saying targets are impossible, then suddenly finding new models to do the job.

“It’s great that they [the government] are having a target, but it could be much more ambitious,” he told BBC News.

“If you push industry further they could go faster.

“Sometimes the car industry has done itself a great disservice by lobbying against environmental standards and then finding itself in trouble when the oil price goes up and people want cleaner, more efficient cars.”

“They should embrace it [a strong target] and ask government to regulate them harder.”


Professor Watson was referring to the long campaign by US car makers against tighter efficiency standards – a battle that ended when the manufacturers faced bankruptcy because in part their models were inefficient.

In effect, the US car firms were so successful with lobbying that they nearly lobbied themselves into extinction.

One UK car firm spokesman told me: “We don’t have a good record on this – the industry has cried ‘wolf’ too often in the past.”

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders told BBC News it rejected this suggestion.

Continued here.

  1. And for some reason, the BBC has decided that what this bloke said is headline news.

    (What a surprise – it’s Harrabin).

  2. Phoenix44 says:

    The US car makers didn’t face extinction because of fuel efficiency – that is a total rewrite of history.

    They faced extinction because unions had forced vast costs on them, and they needed protection from imports to be able to survive. When tariffs were lowered, they struggled to compete. As an example, the big US car manufacturers had an average of $2,000 per car in healthcare costs for redundant employees.

    The US car industry knew all about fuel efficiency – Ford and GM had European subsidiaries that produced cars with European fuel efficiencies for example.

  3. oldbrew says:

    At some point there’s a political unpopularity barrier when forcing up the cost of car ownership.

  4. oldbrew says:

    Regulatory Backfire
    Posted 22 Hours Ago by Ron Clutz


    CAFE standards are costly, inefficient, and ineffective regulations. They severely limit consumers’ ability to make their own choices concerning safety, comfort, affordability, and efficiency. Originally based on the belief that consumers undervalued fuel economy, the standards have morphed into climate control mandates. Under any justification, regulation gives the desires of government regulators precedence over those of the Americans who actually pay for the cars. Since the regulators undervalue the well-being of American consumers, the policy outcomes are predictably harmful.

  5. oldbrew says:

    Diesels are being regulated out of the private car market, by forcing up cost of production, threats of bans and other penalties, and scaring off the punters with fake news, as NTZ reports…

    The War On Diesel Cars Takes A Hit: German Ministry Of Environment Accused of Spreading “Bogus” Findings
    By P Gosselin on 20. May 2018

    Recent German Ministry of Environment findings showing 6000 premature deaths annually due to nitrogen dioxide (stemming in large part from diesel cars) called “bogus”, made up “horror-news” and “fear mongering”.

  6. oldbrew says:

    Not just professors…it’s ‘law change’ now…

    Theresa May: UK to be at ‘forefront of 21st century transport revolution’
    Prime Minister says investing in design and manufacturing for electric cars is now the focus

    During today’s science and modern industrial strategy speech, May reiterated that the Government aims to encourage development in “design and manufacturing of zero-emission vehicles”.

    The targets, first outlined earlier this year with the Road to Zero plan, include a prevention on the sale of pure petrol and diesel cars from 2040. The law change will only allow the sale of new cars capable of at least 50 miles of pure electric range. [bold added]

  7. Graeme No.3 says:

    You can buy a car with a 50 kilometre all electric range right now (in Australia). Costs a lot more and weighs about a ton more than a standard car. The extra weight means of course extra power usage.

    With a bigger battery (and weight) the 50 mile range would be achievable.
    It is a ‘plug-in’ and recharges from the household supply. What could go wrong???

  8. Gamecock says:

    ‘The government’s ambition to clean up motor vehicles by 2040 is not ambitious enough, a leading energy expert says.

    Professor Jim Watson, head of the prestigious UK Energy Research Centre, said the target should be at least five years earlier, as in Scotland.’

    A government target 17 years out is as full of shit as a target 22 years out.

    Harrabin says UKERC is ‘prestigious.’

    Making it highly unlikely.

  9. Mjw says:

    How about a law that compels on pain of death anyone who advocates electric cars to drive or ride in electric powered vehicles only.

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    “If you push industry further they could go faster.”

    At extraordinarily higher and higher costs.

    I’m in California and relatively wealthy compared to most of the world and USA. I can’t afford to buy any new car. Period. Ever again.

    They have prices like houses in rural areas of the south.

    So I’m going to keep my Old Cars running forever (well, for my remaining driving life).

    As per what’s driving US makers to the wall, it’s simple. Regulations.

    The present CAFE mandate has already killed off THE most bought limo, police car, taxi, etc. etc. in the nation, the Ford Crown Vic. Now with the crazy number of something like a 50 mpg CAFE mandate, Ford has announced they are stopping ALL car manufacture save 2 lines. The Focus (dinky thing) and the Mustang (small sporty). They are concentrating on Trucks and Vans that have higher CAFE limits and actually make some money.

    Now what happens to all those folks who need a big car to be comfortable or tow something? Eh?

    They either hold onto old Crown Vics forever (my approach but different car) or they buy a big ‘ol truck…

    Per the 50 Miles / charge:

    Why in the heck is the UK talking in terms of MILES? Are they not metric now? Sure it isn’t km?

    Per Diesels:

    The present assault on Diesels is going to benefit one group only: Oil Producers. There’s already about a 20% burden of higher fuel burned from smog controls on gasoline cars. Diesels are about another 20% more efficient. So dump those DIesels, you get about 40% more oil burned…

    I know this as my Diesel wagon got 22 MPG while my equivalent (though lighter and newer) gas version of it gets 17 mpg.

    Want to kick OPEC silly? Let folks make Diesel cars instead of gas cars.

  11. p.g.sharrow says:

    Proposed standards are not demanding enough, we must push harder to achieve our goals.

    “The car makers admit they face uncertainty over the future. After decades of homogenisation of world markets, they may find themselves manufacturing electric cars to access the Chinese economy on the one hand and petrol SUVs for Texas on the other.
    Car makers think China will probably become a world leader in car standards – especially in cities”.

    “Environmentalists say car buyers,will buy whatever vehicles are permitted to be sold in the country at that time.”

    your freedom of choice will be to our standards or not at all. Only vehicles to our standards will be allowed on the public roads. only the “Right People” will be allowed to operate them.This is already established in California, only the degree of standards is to be determined…pg

  12. oldbrew says:

    EMS – Why in the heck is the UK talking in terms of MILES? Are they not metric now? Sure it isn’t km?

    No, it’s miles. All the road signs and vehicle speedos are in miles, but the filling stations sell litres and the food shops sell by the kilogram due to EU rules.

    Miles…or yards

  13. oldbrew says:

    The Toyota Prius goes 50 km. (31 miles) in electric mode, they claim, but that’s only just over half the future UK ‘law’.
    As Graeme says, battery weight is a big issue. If they can get solid state batteries in, that might do it.
    – – –
    Now it’s the war on woodburners in towns…or is it?

    Ministers will insist that new wood burners must be cleaner, but a source at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) told BBC News there was no plan to ban existing stoves.

    Nor, it appears, is there any intention of banning the burning of coal, or restricting open wood fires which are far more polluting than wood burners.

  14. oldbrew says:

    Dealerships trash talk electric cars: study
    May 21, 2018

    Car dealerships in Nordic countries actively discourage consumers from buying electric vehicles, researchers who conducted an undercover investigation said Monday.

    “In two-thirds of all shopping experiences, sales personnel strongly or solely oriented the customer to select a petrol or diesel vehicle, and actively dismissed EVs,” the study concluded.

    In more than three-quarters of the exchanges, vendors did not even indicate that they had electric cars on offer.

  15. oldbrew says:

    London one of worst capitals in Europe for clean, safe transport, study shows
    The Guardian•22 May 2018

    The study of 13 cities found London has the joint third worst air quality after Moscow and Paris, as well as the most expensive public transport and the highest number of cycling accidents.

    London’s a big place, so air quality is about where exactly you measure it.

  16. nickreality65 says:

    The up/down/”back” radiation greenhouse gas energy loop of the radiative greenhouse effect theory is pencil on paper, a spreadsheet cell, a “what if” scenario and NOT a physical reality.

    Without this GHG energy loop, radiative greenhouse theory collapses.

    Without RGHE theory, man-caused climate change does not exist.

    And with a snap of the fingers and “Presto!!” the bazillion dollar global climate change fantasy is suddenly unemployed.

    Must be why nobody is allowed to talk about this possibility. Not newsworthy enough? Or too far outside the fake news hysterical CAGW narrative?