Boris’s petrol ban is a £40bn car crash waiting to happen – and it'll be drivers left footing the bill

WE all need to do our bit to save the planet, but I will mourn the end of the internal combustion engine.

Apparently, it will become virtually obsolete in less than a decade with Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030.

Instead we will be going electric, with some hybrids still in production for a further five years.

Electric cars are an amazing feat of engineering, driving fast and well, but they’re simply not involving enough for a petrolhead like me.

I want to be able to change gears and feel I’m really driving the car.

There are far more pressing problems, though, that come with ditching fossil fuelled cars so quickly.

Massive splurge still too small

A report this week revealed that 84 per cent of councils had no on-street charging points for electric vehicles.

The Government has announced it will put £1.3 billion investment into charging points – but most experts agree it won't be enough.

More forward-thinking boroughs are converting street lighting posts so environmentally friendly drivers can plug in their cars now.

It's going to take innovative thinking like that to make the green motoring a reality.

Shocking electric cost

Drivers who are tempted to go all electric are often put off by the cost of buying one.

The £582million grant offered by Boris to persuade new buyers will be helpful, but there is currently only a maximum of a £3,000 discount per vehicle.

That’s currently being scooped up by people who can afford them anyway.

Then there’s the problem of convincing car manufacturers across the globe to keep up with the British Government's ambitious timetable.

If there aren't enough electric vehicles in production by 2030, how will this work?

£40billion black hole

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, also understands there is another downside of ending diesel and petrol.

Electric cars don’t provide any funds to the public purse once they’ve been driven off the forecourt.

Their drivers neither pay road tax nor do they pay duty on their fuel.

We might be able to tax those on street electric charging points, but it's hard to see how the Chancellor will be able to tax drivers plugging in vehicles from their home supply.

Without fuel duty, the exchequer will suddenly have £40billion less to spend.

The Chancellor has not outlined an alternative source of income, which is understandable, because none of the options will be popular.

But according to reports, Rishi is considering charging motorists for every mile they drive instead.

Unimaginable toll

Is this really the best solution?

Should we put more toll roads in like we currently have on the M6 on the outskirts of Birmingham?

It works fine on the motorways in Italy and France, with an auto toll system that you can simply drive through.

I use the M6 toll half a dozen times a year – it’s a huge breath of fresh air because there’s not two lanes full of lorries, but the lack of other cars on this stretch of motorway suggests it’s not that popular.

Also, you would have to build ten lane wide toll stations in order to prevent massive tailbacks.

Even though I am a huge petrolhead who prefers a manual gearbox, I am not opposed to electric cars

If we were to adopt the London Congestion Charge system nationwide, it would be an eye-wateringly expensive undertaking.

We would need to install cameras on roads up and down the land, which would feel like an unpleasant intrusion.

In 2007, Labour trailed the idea of charging motorists for every mile they travelled by placing a black box in the engine of a vehicle.

If you drove at rush hour the cost would go up and if you got behind the wheel during quiet periods it would go down.

It’s a practical solution for electric cars, but civil liberties campaigners would not want the movement of citizens to be spied on.

For once I agree with them, because I am not keen on Big Brother watching my driving, wherever I might be.

Taking motorists for a ride

That doesn’t mean I am against the idea of charging drivers to use the nation’s roads.

The principle that those drivers who use the road more should pay more makes sense.

It’s fairer than road tax, where a motorist who does a couple of hundred miles a year has to pay the same amount as someone who does 20,000 miles.

Whatever system is introduced needs to be fair and proportionate.            

The feeling among many motorists is that they are a cash cow that the government keeps milking to fill black holes in its coffers.

We must have a far more rounded and well-funded plan for the future of motoring

The motorists are always the easiest section of society to hit with fresh revenue raising initiatives.

Yellow boxes sometimes feel they are almost designed to trap motorists, parking signs are confusing and it can be hard to keep up with speed limit changes.

Next year London will introduce the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which means most petrol cars made before 2006 and most diesels manufactured before 2016 will have to pay £12.50 a day.

Other cities are looking to introduce a similar scheme. This will be terrible news for anyone with a classic car.

Such ideas are generally led by people who use public transport or ride bicycles.

The huge rollout of bicycle lanes might have made sense in the first lockdown when the weather was nice, but how many commuters will use them in winter?

Let’s see how keen everyone is on splashing through the freezing rain in January.

Electric pipe dreams

Even though I am a huge petrolhead who prefers a manual gearbox, I am not opposed to electric cars.

If you want the ease of an automatic transmission, no engine noise and hate the grease of an old engine then they are a great invention.

But I am not sure they will end up being the best way to power vehicles.

There is a lot of investigation going into alternative fuels for cars, because the fast-growing amount of lithium and cobalt we need to mine for all the batteries is problematic.

We must have a far more rounded and well-funded plan for the future of motoring.

It's clear that this government needs to put a rocket under the roll out of charging points, be far more generous with its grants and do more to help the car industry adapt.

Until then this green plan will just be more hot air pumped into the Earth's atmosphere.

Catch Tiff tonight at 8pm on his new ITV4 car show On The Road

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