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NMC opposes net zero cliff-edge plans

It must be a thankless task working in Westminster at the moment. But all credit to the National Motorcyclists Council, which has been tirelessly representing motorcycling to a UK government that has been beset by problems all year.

Last month, the NMC made its representation to the Department for Transport’s consultation on the de-carbonisation of motorcycles. That consultation has been running since late summer and ended on 21 September. The DfT seemed to be heading towards a plan where all sales of new non-electric bikes would be phased out by 2035, with 50cc and 125cc equivalent petrol bikes ending five years earlier, by 2030.

The NMC’s stance has been set out before, so its response holds few surprises. While backing the general aim of cutting CO2 emissions, it opposes the cliff-edge plans outlined. It points out that there is no immediate alternative in much of the large-capacity motorcycle sector. Instead, the NMC wants the UK government to take a technology-neutral approach, looking at alternatives like bio-fuels, hydrogen power and other options. It also says that an arbitrary, UK-only date will seriously handicap the industry in this country and urges the government to adopt globally agreed targets instead of its own local schedule. It points out the low CO2 outputs of most motorcycles, especially modern small-capacity machines. Finally, it also reiterates the need to consider existing petrol-powered machinery, including classic and heritage vehicles, to ensure that these bikes aren’t lost or rendered unusable.

NMC executive director Craig Carey-Clinch said: “Successful transition in any field requires those affected to be content with changes proposed. In the case of zero emission motorcycles, particularly in the premium motorcycle market, current product availability, its suitability for the wide range of rider needs, prices, and current low market penetration suggests that much more will need to be done before a reasonable target date for full zero-emission new production can be established.

“Although riders are willing to try new technologies, if products don’t meet their needs the market will be severely impacted. Therefore, it is clear that a different regulatory approach will be needed to recognise where electrification works for the market and where it currently poses challenges that cannot be ignored.

“The government should show more ambition in this area. Net zero should not mean the end of the internal combustion engine, but instead we should be looking towards a ‘mixed’ economy of battery electric, clean ICE fuels and other types of technology, with current motorcycle types properly recognised from now as a lower CO2 transport choice. Innovation should be encouraged and not restricted to narrow pathways.”

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