Aston Martin CEO: Combustion engine ban is either disastrous or pointless

Aston Martin CEO: Combustion engine ban is either disastrous or pointless

Andy Palmer says the UK Government’s plans to halt sales of petrol and diesel cars need further consultation

Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer has hit back at government plans to ban petrol and diesel cars from 2040, saying they lack the integrity needed to have a positive impact.

There still remains some confusion within the car industry as to whether the ban will affect all combustion engine vehicle types or exclude hybrids. While Autocar has been informed that hybrids will be legal post-2040, Palmer told Autocar that, either way, these plans are either disastrous or pointless.

He said a worst-case scenario of a full ban would put businesses like his and the jobs they bring at risk, stating: “It’s not thinking about the consequential effects to the 800,000 people in our industry. It’s not taking into account the impact to things like petrol station garages and the [Ford employees] who have been making engines in Bridgend.”

Palmer said car makers “would be forced to stop building our own engines” and have to go to places like Japan, China and Korea for battery technology, “where they’ve been working on it with government aid for years”. This, he added, would waste large amounts of investment in clean engine technology and harm one of Britain’s strongest industries.

Conversely, if comments from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs made to Autocar earlier today that suggested the ban would exclude hybrid cars are accurate, Palmer thinks the new legislation would have no affect on future trends.

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“In 2040 there won’t be a pure combustion car, because hybridisation and plug-in hybridisation will be there with room to spare,” he said. “I genuinely believe plug-in hybrids will represent 40% of the mix even by 2030, so this 2040 ban would be late.”

Aston Martin has already invested in electric technology and will launch its first electric model, the RapideE, in two years. Palmer therefore thinks the government’s announcement comes as a form of “political statement”.

The government has pledged to spend £2.7 billion on improving infrastructure to help facilitate a growth in electrified vehicles, although Palmer believes more help is needed.

“We’re all in this, so if the government want us to throw away our engines, then it has to work with us – or it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” he said. “ We [Aston Martin] don’t have the might of Volkswagen or BMW behind us for budget.”

Palmer said the timing of the government’s announcement was “the worst possible,” because “it’s far enough away to not be of immediate concern, but short enough that it affects investment decisions” from here on.

This, he added, made uncertainty created by Brexit even worse, making it harder to justify investment and difficult to take risks. “We’re trying to keep a car business in the United Kingdom,” he said. “I’m sure other CEOs will agree.”

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Source: Autocar Online

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