A new body has been set up to promote the interests of the classic car industry in the face of challenges presented by a changing world and the oncoming ban of sales of petrol-engined cars.
The Historic Vehicles and Classic Vehicles Alliance (HCVA) says the classic car industry is worth an estimated £18.3billion to the UK each year, but that it faces incredible challenges over the coming decade. Made up of everyone from dedicated enthusiasts to highly-respected industry figures, the HCVA’s plan is to demonstrate the value now and into the future, with hard figures, of what to outsiders may seem a quaint and disposable hobbyist’s racket.
The challenges are well-known. In less than ten years, per current legislative projections, all new cars sold in the United Kingdom will have to be electrically chargeable in some way, with a full-EV market to follow five years on from that. Close as that may seem, tomorrow’s issues follow today’s issues. Enthusiasts, workers and businesses within the UK’s classic car industry now have the changing nature of international business and commerce relationships to deal with, following the UK’s departure from the EU.
What the future, near and distant, holds for classic cars is a question that’s never far from front-of-mind for all the industry. Yet in spite of how sure we seem to be of the fate of new cars, the HCVA say there’s next to no prescience on what the industry in legacy machinery can expect, good or bad, from legislators now and in decades to come.
“Our sector is a great British success story and has been for decades. But it’s in serious jeopardy and may not survive to continue providing opportunities for future generations if we don’t act now,” said HCVA director Harry Whale.
“In a world of mind-boggling bureaucracy, with environmental and other legislation looming, we need to ensure the voice of the industry and owners is heard and understood by regulators and those in power. We’ll work hard for the whole sector. We’re taking the initiative now to address current challenges, clear up confusion and grasp opportunities to find solutions. These problems span the world and we’re determined to take a long-term view as we campaign to secure the future.”
The world of old cars can appear to be a source of pollution and toxicity; the last stubborn pillar of exactly what the coming EV revolution is trying to stamp out. These figures, as compiled by the HVCA, are intended to paint a very different, more accurate picture.
On average, classic vehicles cover 1,200 miles a year in the UK. That compares to the general UK motoring average of 7,200 miles. A more hard-hitting figure is that daily use of a mobile phone and a laptop generate 1,250kg and 1,400kg of CO2 respectively a year. By comparison, the use of a classic car, those 1,200 miles, produce 563kg of CO2 a year – almost a third of that of a laptop in daily use.
Then there’s assessing the scale of the industry. Far from a few old gentlemen in their sheds tinkering as some may imagine, the classic car industry, according to the HCVA, had an £18.3billion turnover in 2019. Within that are £1.57billion in classic car sales and £1.08billion in insurance alone. In total, the industry was worth £2.9billion just in tax revenue in 2019.
Beyond the hard monetary figures, the industry as a whole employs somewhere in the region of 113,000 people and provides around 665 apprenticeship opportunities for young workers. These businesses support and are supported by over 700,000 classic car owners and over three million cars.
The uncertainty of this country’s changing standing in the world affords the opportunity to examine exactly what it is we do and how we do it. As such, the HCVA intends to ensure that the classic car industry is judged on a fair footing, that its value and impact are fairly assessed and that it’s not at best swept under the rug and dismissed as a triviality, or at worst, demonised.
“Classic and historic vehicles invariably bring a smile to the face of people who see them on our roads or TV screens,” added co-director and well-known industry figure, Henry Pearman.
“There are more than a million passionate owners in the UK and around 10 million people who are interested in these vehicles which really are an important element of our national heritage. The time has come for us in the industry, owners and enthusiasts to all to join together to correct a host of myths and misconceptions and to protect and celebrate the world we love.”