If you have ever found yourself fortunate enough to be laughing your head off at the wheel of a Caterham Seven, Morgan 3 Wheeler or BAC Mono, there’s good news for their survival in a net-zero future: Europe’s low-volume car manufacturers will be exempt from the 2035 ban on the sale of new internal combustion engine cars and commercial vehicles, the European Union has confirmed.
In a statement, the EU said: “Manufacturers responsible for small production volumes in a calendar year (1000 to 10,000 new cars or 1000 to 22,000 new vans) may be granted a derogation until the end of 2035 (those registering fewer than 1000 new vehicles per year continue to be exempt).”
This means the UK’s sports car makers can continue selling their cars in Europe, although the country’s departure from the EU leaves a question mark over what will happen here.
The Department for Transport (DoT) says that the final details around its regulatory framework will be published “soon” but didn’t rule out a similar approach to the EU. Most promising is the fact that the UK plan “will take into consideration the role of small-volume manufacturers” for the “UK-specific regulations”.
Under current UK plans, the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans will be banned in 2030, while all new cars and vans must be fully zero emission from 2035.
The UK low-volume car industry is understandably positive about the EU announcement, with Neill Briggs, co-founder of BAC, telling Autocar he expects to steal sales from Europe’s big names. “I think there’s a huge opportunity that businesses like BAC will potentially take volume away from some of the big boys,” he said.
“If an electric solution for a Lamborghini, Porsche or Ferrari, for example, is perhaps not your bag and you prefer an internal combustion engine solution, then perhaps companies like Gordon Murray [Automotive] and BAC are going to be the places for people to go to.”
Ginetta’s managing director, Amy Tomlinson, hinted that it could lead to growth in the industry, saying: “With these regulations setting a limit of 1000 cars per manufacturer, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the number of companies within the sector growing in years to come.”
A spokesperson for Morgan was equally positive, saying: “Morgan remains committed to producing lightweight, handcrafted, fun-to-drive and bespoke sports cars, whether they’re powered by internal combustion or alternative propulsion methods. We know this is exactly what our customers want now and in the future.”