Conversely, if comments from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs made to Autocar earlier today that suggested the ban would exclude hybrid cars are accurate, Palmer thinks the new legislation would have no affect on future trends anyway.
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“In 2040 there won’t be a pure combustion car, because hybridisation and plug-in hybridisation will be there with room to spare,” he said. “I genuinely believe plug-in hybrids will represent 40% of the mix even by 2030, so this 2040 ban would be late.”
Aston Martin is one of several brands already invested in electric technology and will launch its first electric model, the RapideE, in two years' time. Fellow British company McLaren is also gearing towards a low-carbon future, and its CEO, Mike Flewitt, told Autocar that the legislation changes will therefore have no real impact on its future.
"As soon as 2022, at least half the McLarens we sell will already have hybrid powertrains. Plus, as stated in our Track22 business plan, we have already begun to develop an electric vehicle project to conceptually sit in our Ultimate Series," he said. "We are confident that we can continue to provide UK customers with thrilling, four-wheeled entertainment while meeting all environmental and legal challenges through the use of technology for which we have become known."
This lack of impact has convinced Palmer that the Government’s announcement comes more as a form of “political statement” than influential action.
The Government has pledged to spend £2.7 billion on improving infrastructure to help facilitate a growth in electrified vehicles, although Palmer believes more help is needed.
“We’re all in this, so if the Government want us to throw away our engines, then it has to work with us – or it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” he said. “ We [Aston Martin] don’t have the might of Volkswagen or BMW behind us for budget.”
Flewitt also highlighted the need for infrastructure to ensure that electric cars can be viable, saying: "We look forward to learning more about how the Government intends to provide the necessary infrastructure to support and encourage electrification".
Palmer said the timing of the Government’s announcement was “the worst possible,” because “it’s far enough away to not be of immediate concern, but short enough that it affects investment decisions” from here on.
This, he added, made uncertainty created by Brexit even worse, making it harder to justify investment and difficult to take risks. “We’re trying to keep a car business in the United Kingdom,” he said. “I’m sure other CEOs will agree.”
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