IAIN ROBERTSON 

DEV BMW iS

DEV BMW iS

Within what seemed like minutes of winning last year’s General Election, states Iain Robertson, the UK government was promising that 2035 would be the ‘termination’ date for the sales of conventionally fuelled motorcars, a mere 14.5 years from now…

Think very carefully about the majority position into which Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, fell both at the end of last year and earlier this year. Regardless of individual political persuasion, promising to deliver our nation’s exit from the European Union, on terms of which we, as voters, remain largely ignorant, as well as having to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, can scarcely be called routine activities. In truth, none of us would relish such monumental tasks being levied upon even our worst enemies!

Yet, according to all reports, Mr Johnson, far from being the shy wallflower of his predecessor, whom you may need to be reminded was Theresa May, felt more like the king of all he surveyed, having craved the leadership position from his schooldays. However, the gap between capability and desire, like competence and confidence, is sizeable. While the nation had slumped into an ‘anything would be better than what we have’ frame of mind, engaging with a vacillating sometime journalist, whose dithering and bumbling could have easily become a Dickensian jape, did assume little more than a flippant coin-toss decision.

Honda e

Honda e

In, or out. Red, or blue. Tory, or Labour. Heads, or tails. The nation voted. It obtained the leader it seemed to want. Yet, significantly faster than the onset of more customary mid-term blues, aided assuredly by the Chinese pandemic, Boris Johnson’s Prime Ministry looks shakier than the House of Cards constituting the EU, all within a mid-year. It is not helped critically by a Health Minister possessing more swivel to his eyes than former Chancellor of the Exchequer and now journalist, George Osbourne. Yet, his carefully rehearsed but poorly delivered promises have been outweighed by a non-elected ‘consultant’, whose over-inflated sense of ‘untopplable’ self-worth has gifted Barnard Castle with a better post-viral postcard than any amount of tourist board promotion.

How can a sheep-like electorate have any confidence, as we emerge slowly but surely from self-isolating ‘house arrest’, in a government that utters a lot of blustered hot air, without genuine resolution? After all, there has been a significant investment in ‘rah-rah’ campaigning that possesses more than a hint of Cummings’ public relations spiciness, with its snappy three-word whipcracks…Stay At Home…Save The NHS…Keep Your Distance. Life does not revolve around slogans, however deeply shepherding and cattle management skills are employed. Yet, the ‘agri-logical’ references are eminently valid, because, like obedient collies, we rounded up and cloistered ourselves most successfully, without question and without being armed with knowledge.

In fact, the UK has moved, within a mere six months, from largely distrusting politicians into total trust and back into distrust, with scarcely a bat of the ovine eyelashes. Regular press conferences intended to reinforce the governmental position only serve to highlight the worthless sensationalising of what used to be the news gatherers’ roles. Bad news is clearly better than good, according to them. Yet, they build their Shakespearean inquisitorial characters (and stock with their employers) onto a cast list, which serves not to lift the national mood one tiny bit.

Audi e tron

Audi e tron

However, social media has become annoyingly self-indulgent, with greater free polarisation of popular opinion than ought to be allowed. To be frank, I am shocked at the ‘kill policies’ being declared by citizen scribes, whose blending of Anglo-Saxon cuss words, with ill-advised political, religious, racialist and social outpourings have created a most unwelcome and potentially lethal escape valve. At the same time, the comprehensive lack of knowledge being displayed results in an overwrought fault-line of San Andrean proportions.

Before we start pfaffing about with future transport choices, we need to have some stability in the transport scene. Electrification is a major change of direction. Should the nation’s, let alone the rest of the world’s, mobility choices become restricted to Electric Vehicles, then we need to have assurances that some form of price parity will replace the total disparity currently in existence. If you are feeling pushed into a corner, I urge you to ignore the EVangelists that have proliferated on the back of Boris’s announcement. They promote ease of use, decent mileage ranges, easy recharging and clean air but conveniently forget to advise you that most EVs presently cost almost 40% more than their ‘grubby’ petrol/diesel alternatives, because that is the price you must pay for air cleanliness, all without contemplating the source shift from fuel pump to electrical socket, fuelled by ‘grubby’ power stations.

Well, I am sorry, it is the wrong message, because the consumer does not want to pay more and why should he? In a survey carried out by Venson Automotive Solutions, British motorists are said to have little confidence in government, when it comes to advice on buying and owning an EV, with just 2% of car buyers stating that the government would be their go-to information source. Yet, the survey also showed that 58% of buyers favour so-called ‘independent advice’ from consumer motoring titles, without recognising that much of it is provided on the back of heavy advertising support. Biased vehicle manufacturers were believed by 44% of respondents, followed by 31% of people seeking information and advice from friends and family who have already driven, or lived with an EV. Oh dear!

EV plug in points

EV plug in points

The survey also revealed that a reported recent increase in EV appetites is driven by a desire to reduce emissions (47% of respondents), although confidence in the practicalities of ownership remains low, with just 9% of women and 18% of men feeling more confident in owning and maintaining an EV. While almost 15 years is a relatively long time in which to improve the lot of the EV and perhaps reveal mobility alternatives that are even cleaner and greener, the present uptake rate remains at a truly low ebb, despite freak registration figures for April 2020, which put the Tesla3 onto the top slot.

Conclusion:      Whether excited, or wary, about a transport future propelled by electricity, it is true that a change is gonna come. However, do not jump too soon, as your investment may become devalued too quickly. As for governmental trust, I am afraid that you will have to deal with that personally.