The flexibility of the car

The car often gets a bad press. It is briefed against for not being green enough. The  bad side effects brought on by accidents are not welcome, but all transport brings it with it deaths and injuries when things go wrong.  Motorcycles and cycles bring risks, and there have been tragic public transport crashes.

The Covid 19 disaster has reminded us of the strengths of the car. You can travel in it without breathing over fellow passengers on a bus or train and without exposing yourself to infections from others. You can start near to your home and end near to your work or shop or other destination . The road network still offers considerable scope to get to where you want to go though it could be improved to cut accidents and ease flows through junctions.

The car offers individuals and families considerable travel freedom. It allows us to do a weekly shop and get the heavy goods home easily. It allows us to get to work and back, and to visit family and friends. Currently it allows us to reduce or remove our use of public transport as suggested by the guidance.

I am all in favour of  experiment with different fuels,  better exhausts, or higher safety standards. Each recent  model  generation of cars has improved safety features, better fuel efficiency and lower harmful exhaust waste. The important thing is to do this whilst keeping the popular characteristics of the car, the ability to go most places with a decent  range.

My car always waits for me and will go as soon as I want to go. That is an important flexibility. true green policies need us to avoid so much congestion through bad road design and insufficient parking.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. oldtimer
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 5:28 am | Permalink

    How true! Yet politicians are doing their best to deny us these benefits by taxes and regulations. These include the declared intent to ban certain types of power unit regardless of how effectively they may control pollution. This will undoubtedly destroy a whole industry. Clueless is the word which describes the approach of too many politicians to the car and the industry which creates it.

    • Peter
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      Most posters here bury their heads in the sand and simply ignore the big issue – gridlock.

      Decades ago, I could use the back roads and park up in Zone1/Zone2 without cost.

      The number of vehicles and spread of yellow lines mean even a trip to a large outer London centre is now problematic. So – unless I want to go to a golf course or a large shopping mall – the car is not much use. At least with a garage and decent driveway parking on the street is not the nightmare that it is for many.

  2. Lynn Atkinson
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    Quite right. Sir Alfred Sherman, ahead of his time, thought the best way to cut congestion in cities would be to convert the railway lines (which end in City centres) into roads, and construct underground parking in numbers.

  3. Peter
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    Cars are not much good in big cities if everybody is driving.

    Traffic jams delay journey times. It can cost a fortune to park at your destination.

    Yes it was handy during lockdown – but that was because there was unusually low traffic on the roads.

    • glen cullen
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

      Only 5.5m extra cars in 20 years, I think the real prolem is traffic and road planning

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    It is also (very often) greener than going by public transport when you consider the indirect routes used by public transport and often rather low occupancy rates at off peak times on trains and buses. The car is also hugely flexible should your plans change, it needs little advance planning or tiecketing unlike trains and buses, in need no professional staff, you can carry your goods, tools, children, shopping etc. You can travel in the early hours , you do not have to travel at set times, you do not miss any conections, you can go directly from A to B. They are not at risk of the trade unions bringing things to a halt. If a tree falls on a road or something you just take an alternative route.

    It is also far cheaper – five people on a train London to Manchester return can cost as much as £750 at peak times plus the four end journey costs. By car perhaps £40 and that is door to door.

    Even cycling and walking is not all that green as it uses very carbon intensive food at the fuel.

    Current battery technology is expensive, has very limited range, is slow to charge, the batteries depreciate rapidly as they slowly fail to hold the charge and they dischard when standing plus load of energy is wasted at the power station, in transmission, voltage conversions, charging and discharging.

    Keep your old car until they get some sensible batteries or Plug in Hybrids that can do say 30 miles (the city bits on battery) and petrol for the rest ia perhaps the best current compromise. Thus taking the pollution out for the city bits.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 5:50 am | Permalink

      I see that Tesla briefly over took Toyota in market cap recently. Investors are surely rather deluded. Toyota sold around 30 times more cars last year and its revenues were more than 10 times higher.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:01 am | Permalink

      Battery production is very energy intensive too and certainly not remotely green. Mining the materials needed is energy intensive and rather dirty. I do not immagine they use expensive so called “renewables” to do all this much either.

    Posted July 6, 2020 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    The car and the freedom it provides is one of the last remaining bastions of freedom left in Britain today. I’d like to see the car prohibited by the criminal law.

    It is important that people feel the full force of Marxist ideology that’s now been embraced by both retrograde parties in the Commons where State ownership of the private individual becomes culturally acceptable.

    It seems people want more oppression and the removal of their few remaining freedoms. Why else do they continue to vote Marxist Labour and the pernicious, snide Tory party?

    Only when we have been completely subjugated will we achieve absolute clarity and fight back against the cynical and piecemeal strategy of political and social indoctrination being meted out to the private person by the Tory-Labour-Leftist client State triumvirate

    There’s a pivotal moment to come as is always the case when revolutionaries take control as they have now. Their end game will prove an unpleasant environment in which to live

  6. Nigl
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Superb and with all the restrictions, car free areas, parking charges etc I consider the High Street dead.

  7. Roy Grainger
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    I think you will find that people who stridently oppose cars and promote cycling mostly live in London (or some other urban areas) with good public transport – it is just selfish posturing.

    • hefner
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      I live in the Reading area where cycle paths and public transport are reasonably well developed. I do not feel I am self posturing by doing some exercise when taking my bike, and taking the bus to town when the weather is really bad. I have a car that I use when I really need it, but not to go shopping several times a week.
      Everybody has different needs and inclinations. I am fine with yours.

      Have you ever considered you could be the one self-posturing by going in circles with others in this fish bowl, just to show you are in agreement with ‘the majority’ on this site?

      • Edward2
        Posted July 7, 2020 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

        Easy if you live close to big towns and cities.
        Try doing it in rural Wales Cumbria or Northumberland where the nearest shops are 10 or 20 miles away and there is very little in the way of buses or trains.
        I can walk to goid local shops.
        Roy is right.

        • Edward2
          Posted July 7, 2020 at 5:00 pm | Permalink


  8. agricola
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    We began with horses, then it was canals and railways, ultimately the car. First for the wealthy then the population as a whole. It offers freedom way beyond that of the horse or any other form of transport, by all means improve it technically , but not politically, tamper with it at your peril.

  9. Ian Wragg
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    Politicians dislike the car because it symbolises freedom. Socialists like to herd us on to public transport leaving the highways free for the elite. Remember Soviet Russia.
    We now have the minority green blob demonising the internal combustion engine all though it is probably the most effective means of power.
    Unless we can rewrite the laws of physics the battery driven car will only be good enough for a city car.
    When I go on a 3 week cruise, the half tank of petrol is still in the car, it hasn’t seeped out and it will get me home without stopping to refuel.
    When a battery driven car can do 500 mile round trip with air conditioning and lights on I may consider one.

  10. Lifelogic
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    So Sunak is considering cutting stamp duty but only for a temporary period for properties under £500K. Better than nothing I suppose but why not go back to the 1% it was before Osborne and Hammond gave us the absurd up to 15% rates. Or just abolish it.

    After all the government only waste most of the money anyway. Much is spent doing positive harm. Turnover taxes in general are a damaging mistake at 15% they are absurd.

    Increasing tax rates so often raises less government revenue (non more) and it strangles the tax base for subsequent years too. It is the complete opposite that is needed.

  11. Bryan Harris
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Indeed – personal transportation is vital in a busy world, but give them any opportunity and the greens will complain about anything.
    The petrol engine probably got in the way of many innovative means to power cars, there must be other ways though – we just haven’t found them yet …and never will if the greens continue to put a break on new technology.
    The greens want to return us to a way of life we had in the dark ages, without real energy to use, and subsisting off the land, living in draughty huts, and literally just surviving – No luxuries because that would require taking things out of the Earth.
    Oh and don’t expect that poor horse to pull your cart – treating animals as slaves is against the green religion.

  12. Mark B
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    All the negativity about car / personal transport are nothing more than a sham. It is a means, much like Global Warming, to provide the State an excuse to extract monies from us in the form of taxes, fines and charges. It shames us into paying. And where does all this money go, not into roads and infrastructure that is for sure.

    Rail (private corporate industry) gets subsidies from the government but, when will government start subsidising the motorists ? Well it won’t !

    The downside of the car (ICE one’s) is its affordability and its flexibility. Well priced, reliable, versatile with a good support structure (filling stations and the like). But what of electric ? Does that have the same level of benefit as the ICE ? No, but ! Soon we will no longer be able to buy ICE cars and government will not be giving subsidies for them like they do now.

    Time to invest in horse feed and stables me thinks 😉

    • Mark B
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      Sorry, should read :

      The upside of the car . . .

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      +1 but I will not be investing in horses. I do quite like electric bikes. So long as you are on fairly safe roads that is. Like being 16 again as you go up those steep hills.

    • NickC
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      Mark B, This may seem esoteric, but typical domestic electrical goods (cars, washing machines, computers, etc) use electrolytic capacitors. These tend to expire after about a decade. Rendering the products useless.

      With suitable care and maintenance a modern ICE car can last 20 years (though needing replacement electronics). But BEVs not only have more (and more complex) electronics, they have limited life batteries (as many know from their phones).

      And of course BEVs suffer from other inherent faults such as short range, and hours long “refill” times. Above it all, the government is not building the additional generating capacity required.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      Tut! Tut! No horses…think of all that methane.
      The woke green lot don’t seem to like animals much…except where they can cause max alarm by reintroduction…wolves, bears and the like.
      They also love the idea of bringing back extinct species via cloning.
      Go to work on a dinosaur?

    • jerry
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      @Makr B; But what of electric ? Does that have the same level of benefit as the ICE ?”

      Major confused for a while… Forty-five or so years in the motor industry and I had to read your comment three times before the penny dropped!

      ICE has for decades been the abbreviation for “In Car Entertainment”, and it is still used for that, Internal Combustion engines have always been abbreviated as “IC”… 😉 💡

      • Mark B
        Posted July 7, 2020 at 5:02 am | Permalink

        Thanks Jerry, I will add you to my list.

        • Fred H
          Posted July 7, 2020 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

          love it!

  13. Stred
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Now that we are leaving the EU, it would be a good time to re think the policy of increasing the biofuel content of petrol. At present unloaded contains 5% of ethanol and this is about to be increased to 10% in E10 fuel. However, tests by car magazines have found that for cars with small economical 990cc engines, the fuel consumption increased by 10% when E10 was used. I suspect that it is already in some pumps because my own mini the fuel consumption increased by 9% on the same journey in ideal conditions.

    The reason for the supply of biofuels is to reduce CO2 emissions but, if 10% more fuel has to be used then the 5% extra zero carbon fuel will result in more CO2, not less. It is not only minis that use 998 cc engines. Mid range cars do too.

    There is also the matter of the real efficiency of manufacture of ethanol. In his book on sustainable energy, Prof Mackay found that the main source of it was from corn and when all of the energy inputs were taken into account it was the least efficient crop. The US farmers were producing so much corn that they had to find another use for it, otherwise prices would have fallen. It saved hardly any CO2.

    Some critics of the move have explained the government’s unwillingness to listen to the facts by the cynical attitude of the Treasury. They will take 10% more tax.

    • Stred
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:33 am | Permalink

      Unleaded not unloaded. Smart alteration.

  14. peter
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Whilst I totally agree ours are voices in the wilderness, Suspect this would be the majority view, but the baying greenistas and climate change zealots will not permit this to be spoken!

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:32 am | Permalink


    • Andy
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      You just spoke it. And it sounded as silly to us as it did to you in your head when you wrote it.

      • NickC
        Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

        Andy, It is your “climate emergency” (CAGW) which is silly – because it is a hoax.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      +1. Not it seems with this government. They seem as in love with green crap as they are with the dysfunctional NHS.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

        And they have managed to stall all house sales overnight too. You really could not make it up!

        • Mike Wilson
          Posted July 7, 2020 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

          And they have managed to stall all house sales overnight too.

          They absolutely have not done that. My admittedly anecdotal evidence is to the complete contrary. Houses in Somerset are fetching over asking price with multiple offers on some houses. Houses where I live in Dorset are suddenly getting Sold signs after months of For Sale signs. My niece – and her husband – both estate agents in the North West also report lots of activity.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 7, 2020 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

          Do we know this for sure yet?

  15. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    The trouble with the car is that of housing and other limited resources – over population.

    • Dave Andrews
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      Leading to excessive congestion.
      The solution is to make the driving much tougher so fewer people pass, and then introduce periodical retests to remove drivers whose standard has lapsed.
      You could also have a license quota for the country, so only a certain number are issued each year. When the number has been reached, driving tests are suspended until the next year.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

        rationing – I like it. How do we decide who benefits?

    • Adam
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      Safe roads keep vehicles apart, but overtakers on 60mph B roads share road space risking 120mph impact!

      Motorway barriers block head-on collision but waste 3 continuous lanes of road space.

      A typical motorway has 9 lanes, such as:
      3 driving North
      3 driving South
      2 hard shoulders
      1 central barrier lane

      A Safety Fast Motorway uses all 9 lanes without wasteful barriers. It has an empty emergency red lane at its centre, with 30mph max traffic on each adjacent side, and its fastest traffic safely 8 lanes apart from each other.

      Drivers gain 33% road space, reduce impact risk, and progress faster. They drive on the left, overtake on the right and exit from the left, as now. The safety adjustment is simpler than it might seem to a Govt that sees a ‘solution’ as building more road.

      Conservatives should use resources efficiently.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

        That helps motorways but much congestion (and therefore pollution) is on single lane carriageways and local roads.

        • Adam
          Posted July 7, 2020 at 6:57 am | Permalink

          Reducing overpopulation, as you originally indicated, would solve congestion of roads, housing and many other aspects of life.

    • Andy
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      Presumably you consider other people to be the problem? If there were not too many others it would all be better for you?

      But what if you are part of the problem? After all increased longevity is one of the key drivers of population increase.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

        If you read the post Andy the problem is not other people, it is lots of other people.

        Longevity is a small part of global population increase, growing wealth and large families to protect against old age are the main drivers aided by improved healthcare (of all ages from infant mortality onwards).

      • NickC
        Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

        Andy, First you gloated at elderly Brexit voters dying; then you castigated the government for letting elderly Brexit voters die in the pandemic; now you’re saying elderly Brexit voters’ longevity is a problem. You are transfixed by the elderly. As well as blatantly bigoted and inconsistent. Get a life.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

        Everybody should pass a driving test which includes reversing around a corner, 3 point turning, parallel parking. Nobody, including myself, should be on the road without these skills.
        Driving is not a ‘right’.
        That should:
        a) reduce traffic
        b) make roads safer

      • John C.
        Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

        Well done Andy. Your ingenuity in turning everything into a plea for the culling of the elderly never fails.

  16. oldwulf
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    “My car always waits for me…”

    Most cars .. spend most of the time .. doing nothing.

    I suppose that’s the price of flexibility.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      True but then most buses are only used fully at peak times and often only in the commute in and commute out direction as applicable. Plus they need staffing and take indirect routes and congest the roads by stopping every few hundred yards.

      • hefner
        Posted July 6, 2020 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        Except if the bus company has checked the bus occupancy and runs a bus every 15 minutes at peak times and only one every 60 or 90 minutes in-between the very busy times. During these hours, there also are fewer cars on the streets so the congestion is practically non-existent, at least in the area where I live.

        • a-tracy
          Posted July 7, 2020 at 9:33 am | Permalink

          The bus company where I live runs dirty old double-decker buses diesel spewing out at every idling stop empty most of the time. We had eco buses but they moved them to their profitable routes and we get their old rubbish, our Councillors just turn a blind eye. This is where the electric revolution should start and the buses in my town could be much reduced in size and emissions – but who cares in a Labour-run town! None of them.

  17. SM
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    I can’t help feeling that there must have been bad feelings centuries ago when more and more people were able to use at the very least a donkey and cart, and at the highest level horses and carriages. After all, think of the constantly renewed stinking mess on the roads, the cluttering up of the highways, the need for noisy and smelly smithies, and watering troughs that small children might drown in!

  18. Andy
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    A decent electric car does exactly the same thing – whilst not spewing out noxious fumes.

    Electric cars get a bad press from the green crap brigade on this site.

    In reality Tesla’s are probably just about the best cars on the market.

    It is a shame that the future is already here and you are all denying it exists.

    • Richard1
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      Indeed Teslas do seem to be good cars. A few problems with unexpected combustion but a limited number. The issue is there are very few electric cars at the moment, a fraction of 1% – so it’s no problem to plan 20 mins to charge them and plan that into your journey. But when 50-100% of vehicles are electric we will need orders of magnitude more charging infrastructure. And of course, we will need to generate at least 50% more electricity just for cars. Even before we’ve electrified homes, industry and the rest of the transport network. Ie we need probably 3-5x the electricity generation we have today (electricity is currently c 20% of total energy usage). This issue being dodged by the green blob (and others) – where is where is that to come from? The only realistic answers are of course natural gas and nuclear power, but I don’t suppose you like that.

      Facts are difficult.

    • Nigl
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      If you knew the journeys I have to make at weekends for my sport which could be anywhere in England, similarly for the players, you wouldn’t be spouting this knee jerk rubbish, talking of toxic emissions. Maybe it would be ok in your little world?

      Limited range and recharge times makes them impossible in an electric car, they are time consuming enough without the extra for the recharge.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      The noxious fumes get spewed out at the power stations instead – perfect for NIMBY Andy who is also saying only people with £40,000 are allowed to have a car.

    • Know-Dice
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      I don’t think that the child labour in DRC would agree with you…

      Current battery technology is not the way to go…

    • ukretired123
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Reality Telsa cost North of normal folks income unless you work for the BBC, Civil Service or EU like you Andy out of touch with normal people like me.
      Half baked nonsense offered whereas the future is an engineering problem to solve not political lobbies.

    • Wil Pretty
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      Andy, the only sustainable material is wood, it grows naturally, at end of life it decays to CO2 which is needed by growing trees.
      A Tesla contains negligable wood.

    • ukretired123
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      “When the rubber meets the road” is the acid test of all this magic electricity tree money generated by hot air whilst the power cuts await us bequeathed by New Labour. Areas about to erect statuettes of Brown and Blair, Prescot and Ed Millieband to thank and rank next to Winston Churchill. More like next to Eric Morecambe….

      • ukretired123
        Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        Are we ?

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:08 am | Permalink

      Tesla being the best Andy your probably correct. My friend has one, it is recommended you only charge to 80%. Range 300 miles. At night when it’s raining with heater or A/C the range is about 250 miles. Standing it loses 1% of power per day more in winter.
      My Civic Sports does 53.6mpg with a 10 gallon tank. I know which I prefer.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 7, 2020 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

        +1. I get 50 out of my ancient volvo V70 on a long run and it can go about 800 miles on a tank then refill in three mins.

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:08 am | Permalink

      Charging points. Power stations.

      LOTS of them.

    • Glenn Vaughan
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      Andy it is encouraging that you have progressed from a clockwork car to an electric model.

    • Tim the Coder
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      Any road legal vehicle doesn’t “spew out noxious fumes”.
      If you are referring to CO2, AKA ‘plant food’, have the courage to say so. This is neither noxious nor harmful. It’s what makes our country green, and feeds what grows the food we eat.

      Of course, an electric car ‘spews out’ just as many ‘noxious fumes’ as the power station that runs it. Coal, gas or nuclear (we import lots of French nuclear electricity, and import lots of Dutch coal electricity).
      But Ostrich Science applies: can’t see the power station, therefore it doesn’t exit.

      Electric cars remain an expensive niche product, and will do so, until its possible to recharge completely in 2 minutes: like a petrol/diesel car.

      Terla cars are interesting, but with a terrible record for spontaneous combustion.

    • SM
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      How and where do your dream cars get refuelled?

      Where do the rare materials for the batteries come from, and how are defunct batteries disposed of?

      How long a journey can your electric car undertake on one fill-up?

      Just asking.

      • Andy
        Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

        To charge it up you need a plug. Yup. An actual plug.

        You can charge it faster with a fancier plug.

        And electric cars now have a similar range to many petrol cars.

        The average length of a journey in the UK is about 10 miles.

        So an electric car is fine for most journeys.

        If you are making a longer journey you’ll need to stop. But then you need to stop if you are making a longer journey in a petrol car too.

        Most of my local garages have points for recharging electric cars as well as petrol pumps.

        • Edward2
          Posted July 7, 2020 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

          What do you do if you live in a flat or not on the ground floor or have to find a parking space in the road near where you live?
          OK for you wealthy people with a driveway and the money to spend large sums on an electric vehicle.

        • NickC
          Posted July 7, 2020 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

          Andy, It is how long you have to stop for that matters. Fast charging damages batteries, and because charging is exponential the recharge is limited. That in turn limits your range, whilst damaging your car. To put it in context a typical battery electric car (60kWh) takes nearly 8hrs to charge from empty-to-full with a 7kW charging point. As against about 5 minutes for an ICE car or hybrid.

    • IanT
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      Just the problem of the batteries (limited working life), the exotic materials required to make them – and a UK electricity grid unable to charge them if we replaced all the IC vehicles currently in use.

      Of course we can fool ourselves that we can be “carbon neutral” but it depends on importing so much from other places that are clearly not.

      I guess it’s a form of ‘exporting’ that we’ve become quite good at – like jobs, plastic waste and our carbon emissions.

    • agricola
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      Tesla technically good, if limited in certain areas, but affordability very bad.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      I got a pro lithium-ion hedge cutter recently. It will cut a quarter of a mile side of a two metre hedge on a single charge. It’s light, quiet, makes no fumes, and you don’t have to keep it running between strokes. There’s no harmful fuel or messy lubricant either.

      If cars can copy this then what’s not to like? You don’t have to wait for it to charge either, you just change the battery for a pre-charged one. Surely this is the way forward for cars too?

      When it comes to overall energy use, let’s remember that the ICE is only at best about 30% efficient – zero when idling – whereas an electric motor is typically about 98% efficient.

      So even fossil fuels can be converted at best case efficiency into electricity, and then used with very little wastage.

      • Edward2
        Posted July 7, 2020 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        After two or three years you will find both batteries last considerably less than now.
        The two new batteries I eventually had to buy cost nearly as much as the purchase price of my hedge trimmer.

      • NickC
        Posted July 7, 2020 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

        Martin, It is a very complex subject, and you are clearly just a beginner. Nothing wrong with that, but it makes it difficult to reply in a few lines.

        Best to start with the lecture by Professor Gautam Kalghatgi (FREng FSAE FIMechE FISEES) answering the question: “Is it really the end of internal combustion engines and petroleum in transport?” on youtube.

        However, he does not provide the real world inefficiences inherent in the Generation – Grid – Battery charging – Battery discharge cycle. There are a myriad of ways that the ideal efficiency is reduced in the real world – from whether the CCGT is running as dispatchable back-up for Wind, to how fast you drive.

    • NickC
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      Andy, If you want to buy a Tesla you are free to do so. Nobody here wants to stop you. Unlike you, we are not prescriptive authoritarians.

      However, BEVs are about twice the price of equivalent ICE cars, with around half the range, up to 100x longer to “refill”, and about 40% heavier. BEVs are more polluting because of nasty mined materials, and need more CO2 to produce.

      BEVs do save on CO2 over their lifetime, but only provided the electricity is not produced by natural fuels. So for much of the world battery cars do “spew out noxious fumes” – just at the mines and the power stations instead.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      The problem with electric cars is mainly the battery technology. Batteries are very expensive, slow to charge, have very limited range (unless you pay a small fortune for them), they decay and depreciate rapidly, they are heavy, they lose charge when standing and much of the power is wasted at the power station, in transmission, in voltage conversion, and in charging and discharging the batteries.

      When the battery technology works people will buy them (without need for idiotic tax payer bribes). Why buy duff technology early? Stick with the old one until they find better batteries or other alternatives. They can suite some people’s needs but not most people yet.

      The battery depreciation alone can easily be £5 a day even on a cheap car. Perhaps more than 10 times the cost of the electricity you use! This depreciation alone can be rather more than the tax you pay on petrol for a petrol car. Depreciation on the more expensive electric cars must be about £50 a day. About ten times that on my three old cars, Cars that are far superior and more flexible.

    • Graham Wheatley
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      I can get 450+ mile range between fill-ups of fossil fuel.
      – What’s the average range (not the best that you can quote, just the average…) for electric cars?

      There are plenty of filling stations available to me.
      – What’s the distribution of charging points nationwide?

      I can fill my tank in under 3 minutes and have another 450 miles available to me.
      – How long does it take to fully charge (the average) electric vehicle?

      Where do you think most of our electricity production comes from?
      – And no, it isn’t ‘green’ energy sources.

      Take a look at the desolation produced by the footprint of open-cast mines extracting Lithium ores for the batteries
      – vs. those for oil production on both land and at sea.

      No contest mate.

    • DavidJ
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      Give it up Andy. Even a so-called “decent” electric car falls way short of the needs of many (most?) of us and is still in the development phase. As for the “green crap” that is what it is; flawed “science” and manipulated “data”.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      The future is not here. We don’t have the generating capacity to go electric And we don’t have the charging infrastructure.

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      At £37k it’s still waaaaay out of my reach.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      Have you got an electric car – or any car?

      • Andy
        Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

        I have a hybrid. It’s the best car I’ve ever had. So cheap to run. My next car will be fully electric.

        Despite what you naysayers claim green technology actually works. Solar panels work. Solar thermal works. Wind power works. Electric cars work.

        What seems bizarre to me is not only that you are all sceptical about this great technology but that you actually seem to want it to not work. Why on Earth would you object to power that’s essentially free and non polluting once the technology is in place?

        Genuinely. There is nothing to object to.

        • glen cullen
          Posted July 7, 2020 at 10:06 am | Permalink

          I applaud your decision freely made
          I despise the taxpayer subsidy
          I despise our government social engineering
          I despise rare earth metals dug by children
          I despise that only the well off can afford one
          I despise that only households with a garage can re-charge
          I despise a vehicle with an agenda

          But hey-ho you have the government on your side

        • NickC
          Posted July 7, 2020 at 10:09 am | Permalink

          Literally. Genuinely. They. Don’t. They only appear to “work” for technical illiterates, or the wilfully blind, who don’t see the hidden pollution, subsidies, complexities, compulsion, and propaganda behind them. Nobody would buy CFLs without compulsion. No power company would use Wind without subsidy and compulsion.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted July 7, 2020 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

            Not many would obey planning laws without compulsion, nor speed limits, nor many other laws.

            Your point is?

  19. Julian Flood
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    Compressed natural gas used in HGVs, buses etc would, at a stroke, cut NOX and particulate emi
    Ad Blue in smaller diesels would do the same.


    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      +1. Plus they can be refilled (charged) in a minute or two rather than 6 hours!

  20. Everhopeful
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Yes exactly but there are plans afoot, are there not, to hamper the use of cars? For us anyway!
    Widening pavements, more of those unused bicycle lanes and town centres completely shut off and pedestrianised. Local govts following Agenda 20/21/30 whatever.
    I think that very recently a Minister boasted of plans for more dire out of town Park and Rides.
    In sane times all High Streets were totally accessible by car ( and often goods train).
    Was the ridiculous over-purchase of cars a kind of create problem/ find solution thing?
    The age of democratised owner occupier carriages is OVER!
    Once again we will stand at the roadside in a cloud of dust, wondering, as the “gentlemen” whisk by in their rich vehicles.

  21. Old Albion
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately governments throughout the western world are being led by ‘green warriors’ who wish to destroy private car ownership. Helping by constantly increasing the tax burden on ownership
    With the uptake in electric vehicles, tax revenue for Governments will fall, significantly.
    I await the announcement of new taxes on electric car ownership to make up the shortfall.
    From purely a personal point of view. As a pensioner, I’ll stick with my car until I can no longer drive. I see no appeal in public transport. Overpriced, dirty, dangerous and inconvenient.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      Is it destroy car ownership, or is it society so it can be built in their own image?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      Then you will have to switch to an electric mobility scooter I suppose! Which are not that different from many small electric cars. I had to virtually prise the keys off my father when he was rather past driving so he did not injure anyone. He still renewed his driving licence for no reason though several years later.

      Indeed it is largely the inconvenience and limitations of public transport in most places. I might be able to do five business meeting in different places within a day by car where by public transport it might take me three full days to do the same.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:03 am | Permalink

        I thought they wanted improved productivity!

    • NickC
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      Old Albion, It’s worth looking up Michael Shellenberger (the environmental activist) who has now apologised for the climate catastrophe hoax.

      • Old Albion
        Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, I will.

  22. Sharon Jagger
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    I agree with you about the car being flexible, always there for you etc. Modern cars are cleaner than ever.

    However, there has been an agenda to ‘kill off ‘ the car driver, by the green lobbyist for years now. Car parking has got ridiculously expensive, road repairs are neglected, road width has been reduced, car tax is really expensive…etc, etc. And more recently parking bays have electric charging points- which are never used, but renders the bay now out of bounds, so reducing access to ‘nipping’ into the shop it’s outside.

    There’s even been an attempt to build flats with nowhere to park ones car – to discourage car ownership – thankfully our mostly LibDem council (now with 2 Tory MPs) saw the stupidity of this (owners cars were being parked in neighbouring roads) and refused planning permission.

    A lot of work needs to be done in sorting out the mess left by lobbyists to ensure a smoother system that is efficient and cheaper for car users.

    Will this government be willing to do that though? There’s still lots of reference to the zero emissions – which can only be achieved if we go pre-industrialised. We’ll see I suppose….

    • Know-Dice
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      And of course in the Wokingham borough they built charging points that are regularly under water…

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

      +1. We should kill almost all of this totally misguided, very expensive, greencrap and renewable agenda. It is largely just an excuse for more taxes and more regulations.

      Very little of it makes any rational sense. I do however agree with trying to make the air in cities a bit cleaner where possible. But it already is far, far cleaner than it was say 20 years back in London.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      No-one is suggesting zero emissions. ‘Net zero’ is the ambition. This is a very different thing. Build 15 nuclear power stations now and lets go sustainable.

      • NickC
        Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

        Mike W, If we have any intermittent renewables such as Solar or Wind then we need dispatchable backup. That cannot be Nuclear for obvious reasons.

    • DavidJ
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      Good comment Sharon. We must kill off the green agenda before it kills us. Isn’t killing most of us off the aim of the globalist mob and their UN agendas?

  23. Chris Dark
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    A car is good until you suddenly get told you’re no longer fit to drive. For many people the loss of personal private transport means having to become dependent on others for attending shops, clinics, social events and so on. A casual drive to the countryside or coast becomes a dream of the past. The driverless car still seems to be in experimental mode…if only the privacy issues could be overcome…there is a great need for a vehicle such as this.

  24. Ian @Barkham
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Good morning Sir John

    Yes you are correct for the most part the car as personal transport gets a bad press. Most of it as you dig down is unwarranted or misplaced.

    In practice before we ‘just’ talk of ‘green credentials’ in use, we should also be factoring in the real environmental damage of bring the product to market. Some of the seemingly greenest cars that find their way onto UK roads from mainland Europe are produced in some of the most polluting facilities and then enjoy many transport miles before the get to market.

    The drive by Government to replace existing in use vehicles with those that give the ‘appearance’ of being less polluting, might be a good soundbite for a headline, but misses the objective altogether. CO2 is not the enemy, but pollution is.

    A US university some time back analyzed the pollution and CO2 effect a 10 year old Ford Mustang had on the environment when set against a new Toyota Prius over the effective life spans. On every count other than fuel consumption the Mustang was way shown to be better in practice. Bearing in mind the US for the most part uses E85 fuel and diesel is a rarity.

    The biggest damage done to the UK was by Gordon Brown’s push to diesel and we will suffer for years to come.

    We do not need/require a push to new vehicles, the damage there would be a disaster. We need to encourage a longer useful life span of those cars already on the road.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:33 am | Permalink

      Irony, there are more registered cars than there are people with driver licenses

  25. Roger W Carradice
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Sir John
    With sensible views like this how do you manage to stay in the Consevative party with its net zero nonsense?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 7, 2020 at 6:10 am | Permalink

      No other better options alas.

    • Fred H
      Posted July 7, 2020 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      I also often wonder how Sir John squares what I guess and hope are his opinions with the actual functioning of successive Governments.
      I struggle to support it, but don’t invest in it daily as he clearly does.

  26. David Williams
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    All true but there is simply not enough space available.

    A large proportion of car journeys are less than one mile and walking or cycling would be quicker.

    • a-tracy
      Posted July 8, 2020 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      The large proportion of car journeys where I live are more than one mile, 8 miles to the nearest primary town, most people commute by car 10-30 miles to work because of the lack of jobs locally and very weak public transport. There are only a couple of restaurants in the local Town for approx 33,000 residents so if you want to eat out with any variety they are 8-10 miles away minimum. The best shopping complex that makes it worthwhile to shop is 20 miles away. Even the local railway station is 3 miles away with a very poor local public transport connection which takes 45 minutes with a 0.8 mile walk or two buses.

      I would like to put people that suggest we could do without cars are put in our town to live without a vehicle for a month.

  27. The Prangwizard
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    I intend to hang on to my car as long as I can. I will not be coerced into changing my use of it or getting another type but your government is intent on forcing behavioural change.

    By way of example my parish council, quoting governments intention of getting more people on bikes has submitted a proposal to create a ‘temporary’ cycle lane on the main road through our village to the village school, (which is at one end of it) so that pupils will use it there and back each day. It will be formed of cones. It is only intended for pupils.

    It will take up so much of the road as to turn in into single file for the majority of its length. To return it to two way parking will need to be prohibited – that has not been mentioned but is probably an objective. The cones will remain for the whole of the day and night causing great inconvenience and disruption.

    There are currently almost no kids who ride to school. Many of those who live in the village walk and those who don’t are brought by their parents from other villages by car. The temporary nature will no doubt be made permanent if it is introduced and cones replaced by paint, as it will hailed a success no doubt however little it is used. The whole thing is also dangerous especially with cones but more so for kids leaving the school as they will be riding against the flow of traffic if they use it. If I were them I’d simply use the correct side of the road and ignore the lane.

    It makes no sense but it is of course being driven by ideology, climate change and ‘green’ have of course been used as justification. I’m not sure yet if the parish favours the plan or whether they are doing it because they are obliged to come up with something to fit a requirement. There have been no calls for such as system – it is this kind of lunacy and authoritarianism which drives our lives.

  28. Ian @Barkham
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Which ever way this pans out the battery powered car Tesla, Prius etc. is more damaging due to there very short life span. A hydrogen infrastructure answers the question an is more sustainable.

    It has already been shown that hydrogen can be the perfect cost effective store for excess wind farm production. CO2 scrubbers can be used to create hydrogen, so-on-and so-on.

    Battery gets the headline as its Government saying didn’t we do well – in that there is no cost. Where as hydrogen needs commitment takes a bit longer to implement the infrastructure and doesn’t provide a ‘today’ soundbite.

    All government is doing is ducking from the inevitable to pander to the very vocal left wing Green Lobby.

    • Original Richard
      Posted July 7, 2020 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      How would you be using the hydrogen?

      Unfortunately it appears that unless the hydrogen is burnt very inefficiently at low temperatures the exhaust gases include large quantities of NOx.

      This is a problem for replacing natural gas in domestic boilers and for use as an ice fuel for vehicles.

      If this issue cannot be solved then the hydrogen can only be used in fuel cells which do not appear to be able to compete at the moment with batteries, at least for vehicles.

  29. Alan Jutson
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Afraid the cause of much of our problems is simply the size and density of our population, which makes for a rather crowded Island.

    For decades Public transport routes were cut throughout the Country, with rural areas hardest hit.
    Then it was the motorist who was castigated and financially penalised for purchasing a car, running a car, and parking a car.

    The manufacturers as you say have made massive moves to improve efficiency, reliability, safety, and emissions, but clearly not fast enough for the green zealots.

    Decades ago when I was a child, Family members typically lived close to each other, worked locally, shopped locally, went to small local schools (usually all within walking or cycling distance) so a car was not essential, and most families did not have one, but not any more.

    After Beeching, Marples, Garden cities, high rise blocks of flats, huge centralised schools, out of Town shopping centers, the closure of local factories, our way of life then changed.

    A car is now absolutely essential for most families.

  30. Fred H
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    You make good points. However, you don’t touch on the Registration plate and Personal number obsessions and the disproportionate cost versus income of owning a ‘new’ car – or replacing for another new car every year or two.
    For many families available budget is skewed in favour of a more expensive car than is necessary merely due to pressure to keep up with social expectation.

    • John C.
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

      Not everyone is silly.

      • Fred H
        Posted July 7, 2020 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

        but thousands and thousands are!

  31. Alan Jutson
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Electric power is certainly not new.

    I still remember the old type electric trains, trolly bus, and electric milk floats of the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s and before, now since long gone, and at the time replaced with diesel as it was deemed more efficient, and gave more flexibility and range of operation, especially on travel routes.

    Funny how things turn around, and then make a come back !

  32. David_Kent
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    All great advantages of the car, no wonder people are prepared to invest so much of their hard earned money in one. But for the elite who seek to tell us how to think, a car gives too much freedom, too much independence, no union control. In short it is the supreme product of the capitalist system, no wonder the civil service is reluctant to invest in roads.

  33. ChrisS
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    The key to the future use of the car is going to be home working.

    Congestion is mainly caused by commuting so if up to 30% of the office workforce is working from home on any one day, that will be greatly reduced. Also, Zoom meetings give companies an opportunity to reduce time spent travelling around the country.
    Many families could reduce their need for two cars to one as a result.

    We could see a one-off reduction in traffic throughout the road network which would be good for emissions and could give a breathing space for politicians to be convinced that the switch to battery-electric vehicles is a historic mistake.

    Oil Companies are facing the loss of their entire industry so should be encouraged to help vehicle manufacturers to fund the further development of Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicles which have no range issues and can be easily refueled from existing petrol station sites. This will give the oil companies a future in manufacturing and distributing the Hydrogen. It would also present a huge opportunity for other companies to become world-leaders in the field like British-based Ineos, owned and run by Eurosceptic Jim Ratcliffe.

  34. a-tracy
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    With your own car you’re also not at the whim of a unionised workforce who pull your service for personal demands of the staff or because they don’t like automatic ticket booths and wanted to remain back in time with manned ticket offices or to support a colleague who they feel was unfairly dismissed so everyone using that service has to suffer what was in effect an industrial dispute and should have been resolved through the tribunal system.

    German Cities like Berlin don’t seem to have fresh waves of week-long strikes, I never saw staff on their trains unless they were randomly checking tickets.

  35. M H
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Perhaps we should all stop breathing….and stay at home.

    • Mark B
      Posted July 7, 2020 at 5:10 am | Permalink

      Well most of the population have been doing the latter because if they don’t, they will end upvdping the former.


  36. turboterrier
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Politicians of all colours for years have know that they can throw tax after tax at the motorist and transport industries and bitch as we all do we will pay them to try keeping a smidgen of independence and freedom of choice.. too many politicians do not understand the transport system and how each segment depends on each other. Another version of renewable energy paying out billions in payments for something that the infrastructure is no in place for. Running scared of the green lobby is not the panacea to the problem. Ministers with a quick one liner virtually destroyed JLR. The changes in emissions from diesel has changed dramatically over the years, and for what? Reduce the population and increase the infrastructure to accommodate the vehicles we have.

  37. Anonymous
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    We have been pushed towards the car. To be honest I’d LOVE to be able to live without one. They are a complete liability and can dump a huge cost upon the owner at any moment.

    Alas car-lessness is not the society we have created.

    Parents moving to Dun-roamin’ bungalows in the wilds of the country, job flexibility, out of town shopping… all making a car essential.

    • John C.
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      You could live without, but your choice of dwelling would be limited. Life would be less convenient, but you’d have money left over. Take your choice.

  38. William Long
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    The car is one of the most potent expressions of freedom available to us: it enables you to go where you want, when you want and with whom you want. Its convenience generally outweighs extra cost over public transport (if you live in the country you probably have to use a car to get to the public transport anyway) and its emissions are probably much less harmful than those generated by air travel, as witness the much cleaner skies we are enjoying at the moment. People who wish, for whatever reason, to curb the car’s use clearly do not like individual liberty.

  39. beresford
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Most of the disadvantages of your car are inflicted on others. My road is clogged with cars, making it difficult to get a tradesman round to repair my property. Penalties for deaths caused by dangerous driving are excessively lenient. I frequently see people driving whilst gabbling into a mobile phone. While cycling I have to watch out for people flinging open the driver’s door of parked cars or pulling out as I come alongside them. There should be a periodic retest to weed out the worst drivers and reinforce the concept that being allowed to control a fast heavy projectile in the vicinity of pedestrians is a responsibility, not a right.

  40. GilesB
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Is it still true that the energy required to manufacture an electric car and its batteries is greater than an ICE car uses in its lifetime?

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      It never was true.

  41. bigneil(newercomp)
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    How are the roads going to be once 3 million+ Hong Kong families arrive?

  42. Iago
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Noctilucent clouds (ice crystals fifty miles above) are now visible. They can be very beautiful, something for our helpless and oppressed people to look at.

    • Mark B
      Posted July 7, 2020 at 5:15 am | Permalink


  43. Caterpillar
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Time for my middle aged moan;

    The immediate improvements I would make to cars are
    (i) enforced ban on blacked out windows
    (ii) enforced car scrappage if not showing legal registration front and back
    (iii) enforced car scrappage for mobile use (whether hands free or not) while driving or dodgily parked.
    (iv) cars banned from private hire use in cities unless they have a tight turning circle (and driver who can use it safely and effectively)

    Irrespective of whether cars are affordable i.c.e. or unaffordable electric it is simply they are unable to put the same density of people on a length of road as a bus or tram. A compromise would be to not have rich favouring congestion zones but to limit city zone cars to smaller dimensions and smaller power engines.

    There is also a problem in many urban and suburban roads having reduced capacity for cars to flow due to all the parked vehicles loyally waiting for their owners. I would consider limiting the number of cars per household or the total engine capacity/power per household.

    Many of the problems with congestion and parking in the U.K. flow from the number of people and insufficiently vertical cities. The latter requires a whole rethink on rental.vs. ownership model; alongside planning regs, the residential ownership model typically leads to horizontal spread, suburbanization and car commuting. It is doubtful whether the required tarmac per person in a densely populated country that has badly designed cities is viable.

    The number of people? This is usually avoided as a topic because one is labelled if one suggests taxing children or a market solution such as a reproduction trading scheme, and one is definitely labelled if arguing for no immigration and very limited asylum. In either case, whether acting on reproduction or immigration these act on flows without any discussion as to the target final stock of people. Politicians need to be braver and start an open discussion on population.

  44. Caterpillar
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Aside:- has anyone tried cycling or standing up on a scooter in the recent high winds?

  45. Original Richard
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    HS2 with its expensive 19th century technology of metal wheels on a metal track is now not only un-green and uneconomic but as a mass transport system is now unsafe/unusable when we are exposed to viruses such as Covid-19.

    Far better to convert the planned HS2 route to a new form of tarmac road/rubber wheel motorway designed to be used only by small individual driverless electric vehicles.

    In addition it will be far more useful as junctions will enable users to join and exit the motorway along the route and not simply at the terminals.

    • Fred H
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      well – we could go back to the quieter Mansell wheels (wooden centred) but they had metal tyres and ran on metal track…doh!

  46. BOF
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    ‘Each recent model generation of cars has improved safety features, better fuel efficiency and lower harmful exhaust waste.’

    Our gas engineer called before lockdown. He had changed his work van, same make and model and same diesel engine. The new vehicle was returning 26 mpg whereas the old one returned about 42 mpg!

    He of course was highly frustrated that the new technology, apparently aimed at reducing emissions to make the vehicle ‘green’, simultaneously resulted in a considerable increase in fuel used and additional cost to the owner.

    So the result is more fossil fuel used. Hardly a success. Hardly green.

    • Fred H
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

      possibly has the handbrake still on?

  47. BOF
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Sir John you are absolutely right about the flexibility and convenience of the car. It currently cannot be replaced.

  48. acorn
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    “There are 1.3 billion cars in the world today, but they are used only 5% of the time […] Getting from A to B with self-driving electric vehicles is not as far off as perhaps the car industry is implying. The era of one person per car and the era of owning a car, are soon things of the past. A new era is coming, where cars are optimized for city mobility and better quality of life for the individual.” —Anna Haupt NEVS.

    • glen cullen
      Posted July 8, 2020 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      Green car congress and bioage group are just out and out green lobbyists and against the internal combustion engine

  49. glen cullen
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    The internal combustion car (note that Sir John only highlighted ‘car’) is indeed one of the most flexible, effective and versatile means of travel enjoyed by everyone regardless of political view or economic status

    The internal combustion car has released the common man to pursue work opportunities afar and pleasure pursuits at weekends. Its truly is one of the few pleasures remaining in this communist style drive to conformity and electric.

    Stop social engineering and allow people to purchase what they like without subsidy

    In fact, I doubt that we’d even be having this debate if our government wasn’t subsiding electric vehicles…..if they’re so good let the market and the consumer decide

  50. Christine
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    For a family of four to travel on the bus ten miles from where I live to our nearest town it would cost £22 each way. This is not an affordable option. A car is essential for working class families to get about. Rich people are all for congestion charges and pricing people off the roads as these policies free up the roads for their privileged use. If towns want to save their high street then provide affordable parking or park and ride schemes.

    • glen cullen
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

      There was a time when parking was free to encourage people to visit the high street…..I certainly rememer that attractions (seaside, hills etc) where free

    • Mark B
      Posted July 7, 2020 at 5:17 am | Permalink


  51. Nigl
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    It is also easy pickings for the police acting as ‘tax collectors’ re vehicle duty and spendthrift councils with their absorbent fees enforced by vast armies of unproductive traffic wardens targeted to maximise fine income. Not forgetting rail car parks and the most disgraceful, hospitals, where repeated government promises about amelioration have proved, like so much else to be hot air.

  52. Arthur Wrightiss
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps we should change the way we look at car ownership.
    I have 14 solar panels on the house roof and a plug in electric hybrid car.
    Charge the car in daylight , usually for free. Road tax is zero on this model and age.
    I wouldn’t have an LPG tank in any car as it’s a potential bomb.
    I have 2 road bikes which are regularly used and I’m 74 so if I can do it ….
    A change of habit is sometimes a good thing.

    • John C.
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      Don’t expect the road tax to stay at zero for ever.

  53. jerry
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    I’m no fan of these ever “higher safety standards.”, they just appear to produce ever greater numbers of unsafe car drivers (not helped by the DVSA Theory/Driving Test requirements), whilst making vehicles more complex and thus prone to more serious breakdowns that can leave the vehicles stranded and be a safety issue its self. This will only get worse with semi-autonomous and electric vehicles. KISS (principle)…

  54. czerwonadupa
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    The car offers individuals and families considerable travel freedom…..

    That’s the problem Sir John. Bureaucrats don’t like us having that freedom as can be witnessed by the actions of the mayor of London & his lycra wearing advisors on Tf who also by neglect hate motorcyclists.

  55. glen cullen
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Fund the Arts to £1.5bn so that rich people can go to the theatre or with only half the money fund all councils in the UK and cover the cost of their deficits

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

      And kill all house sales until Autumn by which time we have mass unemployment and maybe stag-flation.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted July 7, 2020 at 8:20 am | Permalink

        Chatting to a young lad yesterday – he and his girlfriend are in the market for a house in mid Somerset. I was surprised to be told that several houses they have looked for have received offers over asking price, each of the properties they have viewed in the last few weeks has sold and one of them had 21 offers. Hard to believe I know but what reason would he have to lie to me?

      • a-tracy
        Posted July 7, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink

        What is more likely to kill house sales is the removal of lots of 95% mortgage schemes and the hiked up 4-4.5% mortgage interest offers people are now receiving from new house builder mortgage providers.

  56. Michael
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Different fuels are a distraction. There are no alternatives that offer the energy density that petrol, or better still, diesel. Electric vehicles are actually far worse for the environment if you take everything into account. Hydrogen is absurd as you have to use fossil fules to get it. With 25 plus years of alleged advances in technology my 1994 Peugeot diesel is still 10 to 25% better on fuel than my friends 3 year old eco wonder VW (and 1/25th of the price to buy). When fossil fuels run out so does civilisation despite what the eco fools tell you.

  57. Jack Falstaff
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    I have no problem with cars and totally agree with Andy about the benefits of electric models.
    It’s just the electric scooters that bother me, although I am still unsure as to whether they are actually inherently dangerous or if they just tend to be ridden by the inconsiderate, careless and/or reckless.
    Needless to say it is only thanks to some guardian angel that I am still here to tap these lines, as I was nearly whacked by one of those contraptions while on a pavement!

  58. hefner
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    O/T: The Government has received GCHQ report on Huawei. Will it be released and made available to the public faster than the Intelligence and Security Committee report on alleged interference of Russia into British democracy? Or are such requests likely to fluster some souls in here?

  59. David Brown
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Cannot argue with your comments, although I run a diesel Audi A6 – 2 years old, I will wait until electric cars are a bit more advanced and infrastructure is in place for charging then change to electric.

  60. Andy
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Dominic Raab today announces we are taking back control of our sanctions policy. (Not that we ever lost control of this in the first place),

    Still, what a monumentally useless punishment it is if we do it alone. Sanctions literally only work if they are done multilaterally.

    It’s almost as if 28 wealthy and successful countries working and cooperating together would be more effective in imposing sanctions than one going on it alone. Who could possibly have known that? (Me – for a start).

    • Edward2
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

      What did you think would happen?
      Once we are an independent nation once more we will be in charge of all our various policy decisions.
      Getting 28 nations to agree to one policy isn’t as easy as you think.

    • NickC
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      Andy, As with the Holy Roman Empire, your EU empire is neither wealthy, nor successful, nor is it countries cooperating together.

      Did you not know that the EU is centrally directed from Brussels? – the EU is not an intergovernmental organisation, but a dirigiste empire. And that only about half a dozen of the 27 are wealthy and successful? – because they use the Euro to keep the rest down.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      Sanctions never work. They give impetus for self-sufficiency. Don’t you know that yet?

  61. hefner
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Today the USA with 3,000,469 Covid-19 infections and 132,665 deaths has a death ratio of 4.4%. The Very Stable Genius told us a few days ago that Covid-19 was without consequences in 99% of cases. Well? What about 4.4 times as large?He also told the Americans that they should stop testing as much as they do. This innumerate guy does not seem to be able to figure out that he would decrease the death/infection ratio by increasing the number of tests.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      His voters are often in a state of thraldom, like many Leave/Tory ones here.

      They are not affected by facts such as you quote. Believing what they are told, however preposterous, enables them to lead completely guilt-free and responsibility-free lives.

      • Edward2
        Posted July 7, 2020 at 7:36 am | Permalink

        You believe all the Chinese Communist Party tells you so the comments you make can easily be returned to you.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted July 7, 2020 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

          I don’t at all.

          I believe what some independent observers in China, such as my daughter, and WHO scientists tell me.

          They corroborate *some* of what the government there claim.

          • Edward2
            Posted July 8, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink

            The WHO believe the Chinese Communist Party’s figures too.

      • NickC
        Posted July 7, 2020 at 10:02 am | Permalink

        Says the enthralled Remain.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted July 7, 2020 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

          But I haven’t got any vicious intentions towards anyone, that I need to excuse on the basis of having believed what turned out to be rubbish.

          So I don’t have to suspend critical faculty.

          • Edward2
            Posted July 8, 2020 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

            Nick didn’t say you had any vicious intentions.

  62. XYXY
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Amen to all of that. It’s about time someone pointed out the major advantages of having one’s own transport.

    Travelling on a bus or train has always been something to avoid at all costs for me. Other people’s colds and bugs is one reason, but I suppose an MP can’t really say that… some other people are just not fun to be around. Birds of a feather etc.

  63. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    We should over time be aiming at more electric and plug in hybrid cars. (Self-charging hybrids don’t save so much on fuel.) The trouble is that they are still relatively expensive. To ease conversion of the car fleet, we probably need to tax petrol and diesel fuels more heavily and facilitate more public charging points.

    The technology of car batteries is still evolving so there is every prospect of electric cars becoming cheaper to run, with longer range.

    We need to query the basis of high forecasts for railway passenger use. Increased availability of electric cars might reduce the growth of railway traffic. Also, the total number of journeys made in UK has been levelling off for some time and experience of working from home during lockdown may accelerate this trend.

  64. John Brown
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    “The car often gets a bad press.”

    Simply an attack on our freedom to travel by the illiberal Marxist regressive left who wish to destroy capitalism and wealth to gain power.

    It has absolutely nothing to do with climate change, which I notice is no longer described as “man-made” or “anthropogenic” by the BBC.

  65. Raymond
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    The tragedy is the level of motorcycle fatalities relative to distance. From a Google search:
    Fatality rate Motorcycles Passenger cars
    Per 100 million vehicle miles traveled 25.67 0.94

    Mind you it is better than when I first had a motorcycle in ’74 when you could legally jump on a 250cc 2 stroke capable of 100mph with a provisional licence and no training. Cars are a lot safer than they were. I recall that (for the UK) there were around 6,000 fatalities a year on the road in the mid ’20’s compared to around 1800 now with (probably) less than a 10th of the traffic.

  66. Turboterrier
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    It appears that Japan has realised the problems of renewables and have commited themselves to building 22 coal- fired power stations over the next five years. That is what you could call being realistic and facing up to the demands of modern technology places on electric consumption.

  67. Iain Gill
    Posted July 6, 2020 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    To be honest given how much the political class have messed up my and my families life I am considering giving up engaging in the political process as a bad joke. I really dont think sites like this are worth the bother. The standards of what goes on in our public sector and the politicians and their parities are deplorable. I’m impressed you tolerate it John, but its all too bad for words now.

    Lets see how I feel in the morning. But I really do despair at how ridiculous it has all become.

  68. Ian Wilson
    Posted July 7, 2020 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    Although a passionate advocate of cycling, I agree the car is unmatched for versatility. However I am opposed to the pressure towards electric cars due to the environmental damage caused mining the minerals. A hard-hitting UN report last week pointed out just how bad this is – are ministers taking note?
    Somewhat off topic but related to Boris’ mania over CO2 emissions, if the government refuses consent for the Highthorn coal mine and forces coal for steel and cement making to be imported instead then the Conservative party will lose my life-long vote and no doubt a huge number of those ‘red wall’ voters won at the last election. Coming on top of the fracking ban last year I for one will consider this the last straw.

  69. Martin
    Posted July 7, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    A hazard of cars is getting hassled by meaningless police radar checks. These are often requested by Tory councillors or MPs in the interests of road “safety”. Of course, it is always through traffic that gets the hassle, never local drivers making dangerous crossing of dual carriageways.

    Another hazard are sky-high parking charges. Some by councils others by private companies.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page