Benjamin Franklin noted that there was nothing certain in life except death and taxes. However, to this auspicious list, we must now add (at least) one more category; the end of the internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle.
We all know it is coming and probably sooner than we think. The UK Government has committed to banning the sale of new ICE vehicles (and hybrids) from 2035. Many observers think that date will be brought forward. In any event, it is likely that the market will do the government’s job for it. Few people are going to drop thirty grand on a petrol driven car a couple of years before their sale is banned and their consequent resale value plummets.
For many people (including us at CleanCar) the removal of highly polluting vehicles from our roads is a matter of celebration. Particularly if they can be replaced by more active travel and public transport, alongside much cleaner forms of private and fleet vehicles.
However, the change is not going to be easy for everyone, and we need to care about those people and their businesses too.
It is not good enough to simply say ‘tough luck’, ‘move on’ or something similarly dismissive. For people who rely on cheap-to-run diesel vans or cars to get about or run their business the coming years will be a challenge. We have to take those people with us and demonstrate that change can be positive for everyone. It might mean re-thinking a delivery business to make more use of e-cargo-bikes or engaging in more active travel, ride-sharing or micro-mobility.
All of these things can be positive, they can improve commercial margins, help us be fitter and healthier, improve our neighbourhoods and protect our children. However, not all of that might be obvious to the taxi driver trying to make ends meet, or the single mum trying to get her kids to school in an area poorly served by buses or trains.
We need to be smart about how we engage with all stakeholders in this process. We need to co-create solutions at a local level, taking account of and addressing the concerns of local people. All too often change is imposed from above, we need the transport revolution to come from the grassroots.
We know that we need to take urgent action to save the planet for our children, but we need to do it in a way that also respects people in the here and now. At CleanCar, we want to be part of this conversation and help design the solutions that come from it.