End-of-road for fossil cars – what will it mean?

  • Banning fossil-fuel engines – what does it mean?
  • Could SA may benefit from foreign lessons?
  • Will pollution move from petrol to power stations?

JOHANNESBURG, Cape Town – The Automobile Association in South Africa says it’s received questions about Britain’s proposal to ban sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles… with some implications for South Africa.

It’s important to note that the decision is not yet in force – in fact is still in the “discussion phase”. However, the AA says the discussion is based on sound reasoning; vehicle exhaust remain a serious health issue despite automakers best attempts to clean it up.

Britain also has commitments to at the Paris Climate Accord.


Secondly, the AA says, the proposed ban only applies to the sale of new fossil-fuel vehicles and, if decided, will only come into force from 2040. After which such vehicles will, eventually die out or be scrapped – perhaps with government scrapping subsidies.

Vehicles makers will eventually have to produce alternative energy vehicles. Or, perhaps close down.

READ MORE fossil-fuel features on Carman’s Corner

Several major manufacturers are moving in this direction. In July (2017) Volvo announced that every new Volvo launched from 2019 on will be either hybrid (fossil fuel/battery) or battery only.

The company called this “an historic end” to the assembly of the internal combustion engine. (And consider the unemployment that will create! – The Corner)


Mercedes-Benz has also made clear its future by announcing its withdrawal from the German Touring Cars championship to focus on Formula Electric racing for the 2019/2020 season. Porsche and Audi have decided to withdraw from the World Endurance Championship in favour Formula E.

Britain’s proposals and others in Europe – such as France’s decision to ban diesel vehicles from certain roads and all older vehicles on public roads – raise several questions. Among them:

Will battery vehicles be more environmentally friendly?

Some argue that making lithium batteries creates vast amounts of toxic waste… others that millions of vehicles on overnight charge will strain power grids. Many that the move will merely move the source of pollution from vehicle exhausts to coal-powered generation station chimneys.

And will public transport improve for those who can’t afford a batterycar?


The South African government has mentioned nothing about a ban such as that mooted in Europe but, as automakers require certain levels of production and price to maintain productivity, South Africans may be forced into the battery-car age .

The AA believes this to be not a bad thing: a lot of time and money is being spent globally on developing battery vehicles; many perform as well, or better, than those with a combustion engine.

Indeed, SA might leapfrog the growing pains and arrive at a place where the conversion to battery vehicles will be less painful.


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