If you thought this electric vehicle trend was a passing fad, it looks like the United Kingdom disagrees and is looking to phase out gas burners of all types by 2040, with no new gas-powered motorcycles available for sale after 2035.
You can read the whole 220-page treatise here (there are lots of pictures and cartoonish infographics), but one of many bottom lines is that motorcycles on showroom floors in 2035 will all plug in to refuel rather than use liquified dinosaur remains. That’s right, no new gassers just 14 short years from now. Another bottom line: The plan calls for ALL ground vehicles of any type to run on electrons by 2040. By that time, the ban on the sale of gas and diesel cars and vans will be a decade old.
There’s a lot to unpack about the Government Transport Decarbonisation Plan, as it’s officially known, but one very important thing to understand is that at this point, it’s just that: A Plan. It’s not the law (yet), and like any plan of this size, scope and complexity, it’s subject to some fine tuning if not outright changes and even a complete rethink. But at this early juncture, it does mirror some of the goals set by other countries who are looking to remove fossil fuels from the energy matrix, since a century of burning the stuff has apparently been bad news for the planet.
A few facts and figures that stood out: One in seven vehicles now sold in the U.K. is an electric vehicle, a trend that is likely only going to increase. Electric motorcycle sales are also on the upswing. And a lot of people in the UK ride, whether it’s a full-size motorcycle or a scooter or something else (e-bike) that isn’t a car. According to the plan, motorcycle/scooter and bicycle use will be officially encouraged by the powers that be.
Several groups have issued comment on the plan, with U.K.’s Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) saying “we are pleased to see the recognition of the positive and significant role played by motorcycles acknowledged in the plan, but are concerned that a technological roadmap for motorcycles has yet to be fully developed.” More to the point, MAG said it “remains opposed to compulsion as a solution to reducing carbon emissions.” As in: We like the overall idea, just don’t force us to give up petrol bikes.
To be clear (again), the Climate Change Police will not tackle you and cart you away to an environmental re-education camp if you decide to fire up your 2022 Triumph Tiger in 2035; the ICE “ban” only applies to the sale of new machines. You can still ride that glorious 1966 TR6 all you want (providing laws banning that haven’t been passed).
Without turning this article into a 30,000-work explainer on The Plan, the basics break down as such: Cars and vans will go electric first (since they are trending that way already) with no new ICE machines after 2030. Motorcycles and “heavy goods vehicles” (basically: big diesel trucks) go electric by 2035… or 2040. The language is… squishy. Along with all that, ships, trains and yes, aircraft are also in the mix for conversion to electricity… at some point, but they hope it will be all electrons all the time by 2050.
Clearly, the plan is broad in scope, but short on specific details – especially for motorcycles – at this point. But it’s a pretty good indicator that the shift away from internal combustion vehicles is a priority in the U.K. and elsewhere, and it’s probably going to happen sooner than later. Indeed, the U.K. plan says that if it appears EV adoption is ramping up faster than expected, the dates could be moved up as well.
As more people discover that electric cars are quiet, fast and more affordable to operate (because: no gas), it’s likely the adoption rate will be more exponential than linear, and the Plan could end up being a moot point, at least for cars. But that will not likely be the case for motorcycle riders. Barring a breakthrough in battery tech that allows for 1,000 miles on a charge and a refill in 5 minutes while you pop into the loo, it’s going to be a very long time before many riders send their beloved gassers to the crusher by way of a trade-in. But don’t be fooled into thinking that mythical 1,000-mile electric motorcycle is a long way off. Consider the nature of the technologies in an electric motorcycle: They’re likely just going to get faster, better, and cheaper. Remember your first computer? Now look at your smartphone.
Same deal. It’s already happening.