13 Jul 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

Power drain?

The Government’s announcement that the 2030 ban on the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles was going to be rolled back by five years probably came as a surprise to absolutely nobody reading this.

If you are running a garage, you know that despite the exponential increase in EV sales month-by-month, the vast majority of cars you are seeing are still what you might call conventional. That isn’t to say we don’t ever have EVs in.

As I mentioned in the past, here at Parkit Motors, we have an EV bay. We have a few existing customers who went electric, and decided to stick with us. We also have a small but loyal cadre of newer customers. We marketed the business hard to get them in too. You wouldn’t believe how many “Parkit Motors: #1 for EV servicing” fliers Mrs Parkit had me hand out upand-down the High Street, all the time dressed as the Marvel supervillain Electro. I still get some of the kids from the local school calling out to me “Oi! Lightning eyebrows!” when they seem me. That’s a day I won’t live down any time soon. Mr Benn never had to put up with this sort of thing…

However, talking to our customers, what I learned was that those who had taken the plunge had the ability to charge at home. Many of my other customers were not against the idea but would be reliant on public charging, which is available but not the easiest thing for them. My concern, going beyond the specific plug-in is the problem of what is powering that. This country is already pushing the envelope in terms of what can be achieved with the electricity generating capacity that’s available. If all cars in the UK were electric, could we keep the lights on for everything else? I have wondered that many times over the years.

The cost of the cars is apparently another concern, although in theory, as the tech stabilises and economies of scale kick in, the prices should come down. That’s how I understand it anyway. With households having been hammered by rising costs over the last couple of years as postpandemic supply chain shocks collided with the consequences of the war in Ukraine, it’s not entirely surprising that the Government decided to take some of the pressure off for the country, and for itself frankly. If you are intending to end the sale of new internal combustion engine cars and shift everything to EVs within a few years, you might want to massively, and I mean massively ramp up the availability of charge points. Then, you might want to build some power stations. Then at the same time, you’ll definitely want to keep those financial incentives that encourage people to make the leap. You’ll want those getting higher. You certainly won’t want to start phasing them out just as you expect everyone to give up on petrol and diesel, thereby removing the inducement.

So, here we are. To be honest, as an independent garage owner who has a finger in both pies (Mrs P keeps telling me to wash my hands because of this), I’m happy to be able to work on more or less whatever comes through the door. In the end, the market will make its own mind up anyway.