Electric Cars Will Not Kill Your Classic

February 25th, 2020

When HRH Prince Harry and his bride left their wedding in an E Type Jaguar with nothing but an electric motor and bunch of batteries under its bonnet, some people thought they were viewing the inescapable future for classic vehicles.

That fear may have been heightened early in 2020 when Britain announced an ambitious programme to ensure every new vehicle sold in the UK after 2035 would only run on electricity.

However, the people making these pronouncements have little idea of how complex a task they are setting and how slowly major car manufacturers will move towards achieving the looming target. And that is just the process of designing and engineering new vehicles to run on energy that comes from a socket and not a pump.

Converting existing vehicles to run on batteries is an even more daunting and expensive task and one that appears wholly impractical given the numbers of pre-1990 petrol-engined cars and the benefits it would achieve.

Following completion of the E Type-Zero’s Royal duties, Jaguar revealed that the cost of putting similar cars into limited production, would see them selling at around US$500,000 each. Since a concours-perfect E Type Roadster with the original 3.8-litre petrol engine would currently sell at US$300-350,000 there may not be much interest in the battery-fed version.

While no guarantees exist that every historic car will survive into the next Century or that fuels won’t be priced out of feasible reach, the chances of crusading politicians ridding the roads of older motors via compulsory electrification or old-style ‘cash for clunkers’ schemes are now unlikely.

The reason is the minimal distance now travelled by the vast majority of older vehicles and the absence of any feasible environmental benefit.

As Enthusiast Insurance know very well, many of the ‘special’ vehicles we cover rarely appear on a public road. At 500-1000 kilometres a year, these cars – even the ones with big engines – use less fuel than a typical family 4WD will use in a few weeks.

Designers almost since the motor vehicle was invented have been working on ways to make it run on electrical energy but without any serious uptake. The first viable electric cars appeared in the 1890s and predictably were used as taxis. As petrol became more affordable during the 1920s they fell from favour and even when oil shortages became severe during the 1970s, carmakers were slow to rethink the technology.

During the past 50 years various manufacturers have explored hybrid or full-electric propulsion and sales in some markets are significant. Australia with its huge distances and relatively cheap access to conventional fuels has been slow to adopt the electric vehicle.

Carmakers have been equally reluctant to make electrically propelled models that meet Australia’s specific needs. However, the first one into the market with an all-electric dual-cab utility or parcel delivery van could be onto a winner.

If you have a vehicle that runs on petrol, diesel, gas or electricity and travels minimal kilometres, Enthusiast Insurance may be able to assist with specialised cover. Enthusiast premiums reflect the annual distance travelled each year by each of your vehicles, be it a gas-guzzler or ecologically friendly.

The best way to confirm that you and your vehicle qualify for Enthusiast’s ‘Drive Less….Spend Less’  cover is to visit www.enthusiast.com.au and request a Quick Quote.

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