2015 into 2016…and beyond

It’s the time of year when every man and their dog publishes a round-up of the highlights of the year or predictions for the next one. However, one stands out – Business Green’s two-parter is a fantastic resumé of the last twelve months.

My thoughts on 2015 are simple – there was an almighty turning point in the form of the VW scandal and a new phrase – ‘defeat devices’. Not only did this go far beyond “overstating” emissions performance and fuel efficiency, it has created doubt in the regulation and corporate governance of a major multinational which only greater transparency by all major businesses can overcome (and must be done to ensure they operate beyond reasonable doubt). The revelation helps to explain why emissions in some towns and cities, notably in central London, have been going up when modelling the impact of vehicles against claimed performance suggested they ought to be going down. The end of diesel is nigh, by the looks of it.

My personal view at the time the storm broke was that immense good would come from it in the form of a renewed focus on hybrid and electric vehicles where emissions are at worst displaced and in many cases environmental performance is significantly enhanced. This is a complex arena, as it also likely requires a major shift from purchasing a vehicle to leasing one, with significant challenges to end-of-life management of a greater volume of difficult metals and materials, changes in behaviour, substantial investment in recharging infrastructure and so on. But it unlocks so much.

Cleantech investment by major manufacturers is evident through an expanding number of them involved in top level motorsport R&D on hybrid powertrains – Formula 1, World Endurance Car/Le Mans and of course Formula E including new entrant, Jaguar. Add to the mix fully electric motorbikes lapping the Isle of Man at break-neck speeds to the now seemingly “established” Tesla and there is a recipe for significant competition with inevitable trickle-down to us average Jo/e types.

So, from the ashes of 2015, a cleaner, greener and genuine hybrid and electric future will emerge. Good news.

Merry New Year to you all.