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Euro ban on diesel, petrol vehicles: What does it mean for SA?

2017-08-02 14:27

JOINING FORCES: Automakers in Europe are joining forces to create an electric charging network across. image: NewsPress

Automobile Association

Johannesburg - Late in July 2017, the British government said it would ban the sale of  all new petrol and diesel vehicles  starting in 2040 as authorities move to tackle air pollution.

The news follows France similarly banning the sale of new petrol- and diesel-powered cars  in the near future. 

The Automobile Association speaks on the ban and possible implications for South Africa.

The AA said: "It’s important to note, firstly, that the decision to ban all petrol and diesel vehicles is not in force yet. At the moment, it remains a proposal, still in discussion phase. It is, however, a discussion based on sound reasoning; emissions from vehicles remain a serious issue in Europe, and lead to health issues. In addition, the United Kingdom has to meet commitments agreed to at the Paris Climate Accord.

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"Secondly, the proposal doesn’t seek to ban the existence of diesel and petrol vehicles, only the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2040. This also means there will be a significant period of phasing out of petrol and diesel vehicles over a period of time. With no new petrol or diesel vehicles being sold, manufacturers will have to produce alternative energy vehicles. How long this period is remains to be seen."

Will this affect South Africa?

To date there has not been any suggestion from the South African government regarding a ban on internal combustion engines.

The AA said: "While this may be the case, South Africans may be forced into the electronic car age as there may be no other new vehicles available.
 
"But, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For one, a lot of time and money is being spent on developing electronic vehicles throughout the world, so much so that many of these vehicles are performing as well, or better, than the petrol or diesel versions. 
 
"Another benefit for South Africa is that the country may leapfrog the growing pains of a complete ban, and arrive at a place where the conversion to electronic vehicles is more seamless than in other parts of the world."


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New direction 

Already several major manufacturers are moving in this direction. Earlier in July, Volvo announced all new cars it launches from 2019 will be partially or completely battery-powered (either completely battery powered or hybrids). The company called this move a “historic end” to its making vehicles with only an internal combustion engine.
 
Mercedes-Benz has also made a clear statement regarding where it sees its future by announcing its withdrawal from the DTM Touring circuit to focus instead on its entry into Formula E racing for the 2019/2020 season. Porsche and Audi have made similar decisions to withdraw from the World Endurance Championship (WEC) in favour of Formula E.
 
The AA said: "Britain’s proposals, as well as others in Europe – such as France’s decision to ban diesel vehicles on certain roads, and ban all older vehicles on public roads – do, however, raise several questions. 
 
"Among these is the question as to whether battery powered vehicles are more environmentally friendly or not. Several people argue the production of lithium batteries for electronic vehicles in turn creates vast amounts of toxic waste.

"Others say the resulting dependence on power to charge the batteries will strain power grids, especially at peak times in the morning and evening. It also raises the issue of moving the pollution from the back of a vehicle, to a coal powered smoke stack, locally at least.
 
"Another question is on the availability, and reliability, of public transport, in those cases where people cannot afford new electronic vehicles.
 
"These questions need to be resolved in the intervening years, before any major policy shifts come into place."

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