The announcement today that Britain is to ban all new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040 is a really positive step forward. Having worked in this industry since 2010 it’s something that we’ve been anticipating for some time now.
Over the last 18 months, there has been a real shift in people’s awareness of the issue of air pollution in our cities and the health threat this poses. This legislation today therefore puts a stake in the ground to ensure a healthier and more sustainable future.
Today I’ve been interviewed by both local TV and radio as they have picked up this national story. The main question I’ve encountered is how will it be possible to make the step-change from low emission cars being in a minority to becoming something that is commonplace.
In my view the biggest challenge isn’t about consumer acceptance (although that still does pose a problem) but rather manufacturing. To get to the stage where every new car sold will be an electric car, manufacturers have to act and start ramping up production immediately. This is a challenge which I think will be being discussed in boardrooms all over the world.
Take Nissan Sunderland for example. Nissan were first to market with their Nissan LEAF and they have been manufacturing the model in Sunderland since 2013. So the company has a head-start in the world of electric manufacturing. Building the physical body of the vehicle is not any different to any other vehicle however it is the manufacture of the battery which requires new skills, investment and development. It’s well documented that Nissan Sunderland has the capacity to make 50,000 batteries each year which equates to a manufacturing capacity of 50,000 Nissan LEAF annually.
The scale of investment that is needed to create bigger, more productive battery plants throughout the world will be incredible. Plants will need to work on platform changes and schedule developments into their production cycles. With some cities announcing a ban on petrol and diesel by 2025, this puts a lot of pressure on to manufacturers to act quickly.
The legislation announced today is great news and these targets send a clear message to both manufacturers and consumers that the transition to electric cars is coming and will be supported by policy measures. However, I do believe that it will be an interesting time for the manufacturing industry both in terms of car production and, of course, for the development of the infrastructure needed to support mass adoption of electric cars.