The UK government is setting 2020 plans for this week, but what should motorists be hoping for? We will show our vision
So it's budget week when the government's manifest promises are tested by the push and pull of competing demands before being passed through the washing machine of political expediency.
As it's written, we don't know what Chancellor Rishi Sunak's red box contains, but we do know that his boss, Boris Johnson, wants to spend big time behind the scenes as he has an international climate change summit in planning. Call us paranoid, but these two things make us fearful for motorists, because experience teaches us that politicians on a mission, a humble car is a source of income and a whipping boy.
Therefore, the financial plans of the government have already been laid down, we humbly present the manifesto car of motorists to the real world. If a backdrop of tax and green waving, she reminds the government that motorists look like she's done her job.
Not bash drivers, they need their cars more than ever
The temptation for an overwhelming government to go after motorists with impunity can be hard to resist, but according to a recent RSC report, more than a third of British drivers say they are more dependent on their cars than they were 12 months ago. The proportion is the highest it has been in seven years.
Drivers blame the poor quality and high fares of public transport. The government has pledged to spend a chunk of the £5bn earmarked for infrastructure projects to improve the bus or cycle. However, the car says that until these improvements arrive, do not penalize drivers if they prefer their car to withstand the strain.
Reconsider decision to ban hybrid cars
Governments committed to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2035 (or even sooner, given subsequent announcements) have drawn a lot of attention. However, he now intends to ban hybrid cars. The government must be careful. A ban on hybrids could help increase emissions as the demonization of diesel cars.
The timing of the announcement is quite unfortunate as sales of hybrids are on the rise. It would be a shame if the decision to ban them discouraged automakers from introducing more efficient models. Worse for the government, once it goes into effect, without hybrids to buy, motorists may be advised to keep their diesel and petrol cars longer.
Continue to support electric vehicles
We hope the budget will have us spared it, but if not and the £3500 grant for plug-in electric cars ends up as planned, the car asks the government to consider some other form of support to encourage the use of electric cars. This is an incentive that should encourage the growth of EV without prohibiting alternatives.
The zero-assessment benefits of the in-kind tax for electric vehicles from April is a great start, but that's just the benefits of company drivers. Instead, every employee can benefit from a salary donation. Fortunately, from April, this scheme will include electric vehicles that workers will be able to rent out, processing refunds from their gross wages.
So what people are working figured out, but what about others, such as pensioners? They will appreciate VAT cuts on electric vehicles. Would certainly support such a proposal, with a third of AA members saying they would buy an EV if it were the same price as a diesel or petrol car.
The subsidy sounds worrisome as the taxpayer is being asked to support those least in need, but rising sales of new electric vehicles will mean more supplies of used ones at a lower price, benefiting all of us.
Increase the number of epochs on smart roads
The ideal autobahns look a bit creepy after it has been revealed that at least 38 people have been killed in the past five years. The schemes were given the green light when it was promised that emergency shelter sites (Era) would be located at least every 600m. However, with roll-outs this interval has increased to 2,5 kilometers in some sections.
Last October, Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps ordered a review of smart highways and halted the introduction of new schemes until the results are known. One easy way to improve safety would be to retro-fit additional epochs, but, on perusal of the M4 stretch that is turning into a smart highway, ER is still being built at approximately one mile intervals.
Meanwhile, the roll-out stopped by the vehicle detection system, currently only found on sections of the M25 and M3 motorways, should happen faster. This is especially important because, as it is, it takes 17 minutes for a stopped car to be seen, another three minutes for the red x to activate the lane closure signs, and another 17 minutes for help to arrive.
Give young drivers a break
A revision of the insurance premium tax - set at 12% before Chancellor Sunak climbed the mailbox and is charged on breakdown, as well as auto insurance - would be welcome.
It generates more than $6 billion in revenue for the government, but among those people who paid the tax, many are the ones who can least afford it: young drivers.
They are already paying sky-high insurance premiums, so we think they deserve a reduction in costs, especially if they have a black box installed on their car.
Harmonize City Center Clear Air Zones
This summer, Birmingham and Leeds will become the last UK cities to have a clean air zone, after Glasgow, Southampton and London. More cities including Edinburgh, Bristol, Derby and Nottingham are planning to launch similar schemes.
These zones play an important role in reducing urban air pollution, but their individual qualifications and charging risk criteria confuse motorists and undermine acceptance of these zones. For example, Birmingham and Leeds will each have different restrictions. The Birmingham scheme sets minimum vehicle emission standards, including private cars, but the Leeds scheme does not impose any caps on private cars. Meanwhile, the Glasgow zone only applies to buses, but cars will also be included from December 2022.
It helps that all ultra-low emission vehicles will be exempt from any charges. The government is also exploring the possibility of an online check zone where car owners can see if their car will be charged. Even so, it's important that zones harmonize their entry and charging criteria across the country to avoid confusion and repulsion of motorists.
Support the development of connected and autonomous vehicles
As the auto industry moves towards electrification, it is important that the government not dilute its support for this country's work in autonomous vehicle technology. The latest, successful completion of the 230 km autonomous Nissan Leaf - a vehicle developed by the UK car manufacturer and other organizations, including Cranfield and Leeds Universities - proves that the country is a world leader in technology.
That leaf level-five autonomous systems have been widely accepted for several years is irrelevant. The car development lessons will feed into the current autonomy level two and, more importantly, level three, which is just around the corner and where the car can drive itself under certain circumstances. Other modes of transport and networks will also benefit.
“These systems will help get us to zero road deaths,” Richard Billyeald, technical director at Thatcham Research, said of the car. “Step by step, technology is making cars safer. We cannot afford to back down.”
Don't Ignore Local Roads
In 2018/19, a transport tax (FTA) created £6,4 billion. That same year, then British Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a £30bn investment package for roads, funded over a five-year period from 2020 to 2025.
The money was to include an immediate payment of £420m for patching, but the bulk of the £28.8bn would go to England's highways to develop and maintain highways and major motorways.
Local authorities approved the funding but noted that the government spends 43 times more per mile on preserving national roads, which make up only 3% of all roads, than the local roads they control. The Asphalt Industry Alliance has claimed £8bn is required to fix outstanding repair problems with local roads. Speaking to Autocar, he said the government's £1bn spent filling in the potholes over the past decade has been wasted. Cancer said drivers were twice as likely to break down as a result of hitting a pothole, as they were in 2006.
The Treasury confirmed that the new government would deliver on Hammond's promises. However, the volume of traffic on rural roads has increased compared to 2013 and the experience of them suggests more because the pot must be used for their repair and maintenance. At the moment, it would also help if the local authorities were forced to call up the money they receive from the government on the roads for the same purpose.
Get a solid gold-trading deal for the UK automotive industry
With his oven-ready phrase "hand out" still ringing in our ears, Boris Johnson and his negotiators constantly clashed with their counterparts in the EU over how they thrash out a trade deal. Regardless of the outcome, the UK's automotive industry deserves to reflect the huge contribution the sector is making to national prosperity. Recently, it has been clogged with muddled thinking on diesel and the UK's exit from the EU, which has caused production to fall, investment to be cut and consumer confidence to dwindle.
Fortunately, Europe still presents a golden opportunity for the UK. Despite tensions, the proportion of cars produced here that were exported to EU countries rose in 2019. That's why the government can't let its oven-ready internet burn to the ground.
We are following the minister...
Before the election, Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps inflicted talking about creating and maintaining a modern, fully consistent with the goal of a transportation system that makes people's lives easier. He said he was making electric car driving the norm during his time at the office (he's clearly going to stay longer than his predecessors) and wanting the UK to be a leader in autonomous technology. First of all, he expressed the hope that his office will, more than ever before, defend the interests of transport users. The car and our readers will follow.
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