Car firms ‘blocking green fuel’



Mr Wannacott said Japanese manufacturers had led
the way on hybrid electric and petrol cars but all major manufacturers
were developing hydrogen and bio-fuel engines.

He urged the government to provide incentives and build
infrastructure to encourage the take-up of hydrogen, which he said was
about 15 to 20 years away.

But Professor Blythe, who is one of the key contributors
to the government future transport strategy, claimed it was the
manufacturers who were dragging their feet.

“We have had a lot of meetings with car companies, who
promote their green credentials – but they say we are not going to do
much for the next 20 to 30 years because our customers don’t want to
pay more.

“Japanese car manufacturers seem to be much more progressive than some of the European or American ones,” he said.

Perpetual motion

He was speaking at the launch of a report on the long-term shape of UK transport policy.

The report includes four alternative scenarios of what
life might be like in 50 years time to help industry and government
plan future transport infrastructure.

The scenarios are:

  • Perpetual motion – Demand for travel remains
    strong thanks to continued globalisation and growth. Cars have got
    faster but more green, air travel still popular but expensive.

  • Urban colonies – Environment top priority
    for government. Car use expensive and restricted. Public transport
    widely used but rural areas lose out.

  • Tribal trading – Energy crisis has caused
    mass unemployment. Long distance travel a luxury few can afford. World
    has shrunk to local communities for most people.

  • Good intentions – Tough government measures
    restrict carbon emissions. Traffic volumes have fallen but the market
    has failed to provide new energy sources.

Asked which of the scenarios would appeal to car
manufacturers, Professor Blythe said: “I suspect they would not favour
any of them.”

Road pricing

He said the way people used their cars would have to change over time to make it a more “efficient” form of transport.

Road pricing schemes, electronic networks to help people
plan journeys better or even replacing private car ownership with
public cars-on-demand schemes could all play a part, he added.

Mr Wannacott said the car industry backed “smarter use of cars and commercial vehicles”, which would free roads from congestion.

But he added: “I can never see a time when our love affair with the car wanes.

“There will always be an element of glamour: you are
safe, you are free to go where you choose, you are not restricted to
doing things the way somebody else wants you to do them. It is about
personal freedom.”

Source – BBC News  

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