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Des Evans – MAN CEO – “Swap Electric Vehicle Grants for Euro 6 Truck Grants” – VIEWPOINT

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MAN CEO, Des Evans believes that Government Grants are the way to get the truck industry moving again….

Des Evans, MAN CEO

Des Evans, MAN CEO

“While I am delighted so many operators and dealers are battling successfully with this seemingly never-ending recession, I am also conscious of the latest market registration figures from the SMMT.

In the first four months of 2013, less than 11,500 trucks above 6 tonne had been registered: compare that with only 5 years ago, when just over 19,500 were recorded. Extrapolate these 2013 figures through to year end, and you have under 35,000 new truck registrations: to me, that says everything about the health of the transport sector.

Even among firms shortlisted for the prestigious Motor Transport Haulier of the Year Award 2013, none had an operating margin above 6% in 2012. Most transport companies hardly dare dream of achieving this, yet the bitter truth is such returns would not sustain businesses in almost any other sector.

“Now, while market forces are a perfectly natural, if occasionally uncomfortable regime, for ‘UK plc’ to revive its ailing economy the Government needs to take a hand. It takes a huge ‘hand’ already of course, dipping it into our industry’s back pocket every year for around £8BN in a taxes and VED. So let me be very clear, it is now time for Government to give something back to the transport sector. Yes, it has backed off the fuel duty escalator and recent planned fuel price rises, but it is still grabbing £8BN each year, even without those.

“Now, at the risk of being labelled an ‘anorak’, let me share some figures with you.

“Buy an electric car and you’ll get a £5K grant. Buy an electric van, and you’ll get £8K. Unfortunately, only 3600 people have felt moved by this to go for an electric car. And almost nobody at all has gone for an electric van. So, rather than fool around on the periphery with things that benefit the environment but have almost no impact on the economy, why not support the real world? Drop car and van incentives and, instead, give truck operators a £5K incentive per truck to scrap their ‘old smokers’ and move up to Euro 5 vehicles; or £6K to move straight into a Euro 6. Some 40,000 UK tractors are 10 years or more old: the heaviest ‘gas guzzlers’ and biggest polluters. So, enormous savings in emissions and a serious contribution to our 2020 Kyoto agreement target would cost Government just £220M over two years, which they would get back from more profitable transport businesses.

“Better vehicles will mean better businesses, generating more Corporation Tax and more VED for the Government, making the whole operation a tax neutral ‘win-win’. And if we wanted a different justification for this, let’s consider that this is less than 1.0% of the money we have given Ireland and Greece in recent times to help bail out their economies.

“So come on HMG, take the blinkers off and put the transport industry first for once. Because nothing is more certain than that a healthy UK transport sector will soon get the economy moving faster in the right direction!”

About Jason Hodge (1361 Articles)
Editor of Commercial Vehicle Dealer Magazine, Jason has worked in the commercial vehicle industry since leaving university over 20 years ago.