Currently reading: Aston Martin CEO: Combustion engine ban is either disastrous or pointless
Andy Palmer says the Government's plans to halt sales of petrol and diesel cars need further consultation
Sam Sheehan
3 mins read
26 July 2017

Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer has hit back at the Government's plans to ban petrol and diesel cars from 2040, saying they lack the integrity needed to have a positive impact.

There still remains some confusion within the car industry as to whether the ban will affect all combustion engine vehicle types or exclude hybrids. While Autocar has been informed that hybrids will be legal post-2040, Palmer told Autocar that, either way, these plans are either disastrous or pointless.

He said a worst-case scenario of a full ban would put businesses like his and the jobs they bring at risk, stating: “It’s not thinking about the consequential effects to the 800,000 people in our industry. It’s not taking into account the impact on things like petrol station garages and the [Ford employees] who have been making engines in Bridgend.”

Palmer said car makers “would be forced to stop building our own engines” and have to go to places like Japan, China and Korea for battery technology, “where they’ve been working on it with government aid for years”. This, he added, would waste large amounts of investment in clean engine technology and harm one of Britain’s strongest industries.

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.


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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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Join the debate


26 July 2017

To create the conditions that have the electorate clamouring to stay in the EU. Its like this government has a pathological desire to sabotage anything that resembles success and destroy any opportunity for financial independence from the central banks. They work hand in hand with the economic hit men of Europe to ensure our dependance on them.

27 July 2017

Your tin hat is slipping.

DBtechnician wrote:

To create the conditions that have the electorate clamouring to stay in the EU. Its like this government has a pathological desire to sabotage anything that resembles success and destroy any opportunity for financial independence from the central banks. They work hand in hand with the economic hit men of Europe to ensure our dependance on them.

26 July 2017

When I was quite young I was told we would run out of oil and one day and that would be the demise of the petrol/diesel car as we know it. I think it's a shame that a hybrid or electric only vehicle will be the only choice. I know hybrid options are getting better but they are still fairly restricted on range and the time it takes to recharge them as it stands. I am sure that won't be the case in 2040 but for me, a sad day today if this all happens as announced. 

26 July 2017

To give comments that are so polarised. The world is not binary. He comes across as representing a manufacturer that isnt prepared for the future

27 July 2017

Hybrid cars will still be allowed under the new laws. If Aston Martin does not already have a plan for its vehicles to become hybridised before 2040, they're going to be left behind by absolutely everyone else.

So he should have absolutely nothing to worry about. The 2040 deadline is going to be of more relevance to infrastructure delivery than the car industry's ability to add batteries to every car in the next 20 years.

Once you ignore all the idiotic shouting, the 2040 plan is eminently achievable and, if anything, too conservative. If it was 2040 for full-electric cars and not hybrids, it would be much more challenging.

26 July 2017

Political decisions by the UK governmant concerning our own UK car production have not historiclly helped our homegrown motor industry, including British Leyland and the sell of of Austin Rover, backtracking on supposed benefits of diesel over petrol and so on.

Given that manufaturers and motorists are passionate about their cars, the govenment could take a more positive lead in manufacturing their politically preferred type of car, rather than timetabling bans on fuel that do not benefit UK industries.

27 July 2017

He's right. Stupid posturing by this useless government. They wanted a headline, nothing more.

27 July 2017
A stupid time to make an irresponsible statement. It's done more damage than good.

27 July 2017
But will this 'ban' stop manufactures making ICE cars for export ? Or is the whole world going electric ?

27 July 2017

Low volume car makers will be worried because of course they can't make their cars electric.So if they're forced to, they'll go out of business. If that's what it takes to protect the health of future generations, that would still be worth it. But surely there will have to be some compromises. Otherwise, it'll eventually mean the end of classic car shows and a lot more besides. But I'm very much in favour of putting a rocket up the rear end of all the mainstream car makers to make cars both autonomous and non polluting. Because cars are killing us at the moment and it can't go on.


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