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Government to extend ICE ban?

According to a recent report in the Daily Telegraph (12 May), the government is to extend its deadline on the sale of petrol-powered motorcycles by five years from 2035 to 2040. At the same time, it will confirm that the sale of petrol-powered mopeds will be banned from 2030.

Known as the Torygraph in political circles, the Daily Telegraph is well known to have hotline access to prime minister Rishi Sunak and his Downing Street advisors. This gives extra credibility to the Telegraph’s story and also adds weight to one industry spokesman’s recent comment that the government will make an announcement before parliament breaks for its summer recess on 23 July.

Although of long-term concern, the extension of the ban on ICE motorcycles gives the industry 16 years to further develop alternative sources of power. That time could easily be reduced if there is a change of government following the election on 4 July. The Labour Party has been highly critical of the Tory’s extension by five years of the ban on ICE-powered cars, and will probably want to reinforce its eco credentials, if Sir Keir Starmer gets into Downing Street.

2040 may be a move in our direction, particularly if the intention is “from 2040”

The 2030 ban on the sale of petrol-powered mopeds is (technology-wise, at least) of less concern. Moped sales last year (including electric-powered machines) totalled 5533, a reduction of 23% on 2022. Within that were 1762 electric mopeds (under 4kW), which was a fall of 40%, with registrations decimated by the government’s cut of the Plug-in grant available on mopeds. This was cut to just £150 in 2021 and was withdrawn completely in April 2024. At the same time, the grant available on L3e motorcycles (125cc equivalent and above) was also reduced to £500 and limited to bikes up to £10,000 retail value. This will continue until April 2025.

Commenting on the Daily Telegraph’s story, Craig Carey-Clinch, executive director for the National Motorcyclists Council, said: “The Telegraph’s article was speculatory, but the NMC’s position remains clear – phase-out should not be to arbitrary UK-only targets but instead should move in pace with international developments and the evolution of global technical regulations. The policy must be implemented in a way that does not damage rider choice in the marketplace or lead to market withdrawal by manufacturers.

“There must also be technological neutrality, allowing full scope for eFuel developments for current and historic ICE motorcycles, plus developments in hydrogen technology, rather than just battery electric, given the current concerns riders have about the viability of this technology for touring, leisure and sport motorcycles.

“2040 may be a move in our direction, particularly if the intention is ‘from 2040’, because creating an absolute deadline creates many hostages to fortune, as we have seen with the politics of car ICE phase out in recent months. Plus, there remain several question marks over current charging infrastructure planning and provision for a fully zero-emission fleet of the tens of millions of cars and motorcycles that the government wants.”

Alfie Brierley, the Motor Cycle Industry Association’s director of policy and public affairs, said: “We don’t want to speculate on the final response, but we remain committed to advocating for realistic, pragmatic, and proportionate phase-out dates that won’t negatively impact the UK market. We’re continuing to work with officials and ministers on this.

“The dates must align with our vehicles’ use cases and their environmental and urban mobility benefits. Additionally, we need to consider architectural, technical, safety, and alternative fuel challenges, especially for large-capacity L3 motorcycles, which face entirely different challenges compared to L1 mopeds.”
According to an update from the MCIA, the grant for electric mopeds ended because they cornered 40% of the market in 2022 (though there’s no mention of the subsequent massive decline in 2023…). The grant had previously delivered £7m in subsidies to help the changeover from petrol to battery electric bikes, with more than 12,000 electric bikes sold under the scheme.
The scheme will continue to subsidise L3e (125cc+ equivalent) electric motorcycles at the current rates for at least another year.

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