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Industry and motorcycling organisations join forces at major Parliamentary briefing

Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) and National Motorcyclists Council (NMC) deliver key messages to Parliament on decarbonisation

Recognising the needs of both industry and users, plus the need to take a technology neutral approach to decarbonisation, were among the key messages delivered to Parliament on Tuesday 7th February 2023 as part of a joint Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) and National Motorcyclists Council (NMC) briefing to MPs, Peers and Government representatives.

Read the briefing here –  Motorcycling and the Future of Transport

With the Government yet to announce policy after its summer 2022 consultation on decarbonising L-Category vehicles (two, three and light four-wheeled vehicles), the MCIA and NMC took the key messages for the sector to parliamentarians at a well-attended briefing which was followed by an outdoor display of zero emission products.

The session was opened by Greg Smith MP, who expressed his support for motorcycling and spoke about the potential for alternative fuels. He was followed by MCIA CEO Tony Campbell and NMC Executive Director Craig Carey-Clinch, who delivered a joint presentation on the issues, with them both delivering proposals for how decarbonisation needs to be approached.

Tony Campbell outlined the diverse nature of the sector and the very real challenges being faced by industry, particularly if asked to meet UK only targets. He set out counter proposals, which include sector ‘readiness checks’ which would be done in partnership between government, industry and users before any final decisions are taken on timings for the final phase out of fossil fuelled products.  He outlined how ‘Tomorrow’s Journeys’ need to recognise a range of factors including the wide range of uses that L-Category vehicles cover, with an already good environmental footprint and contribution to mobility, last mile delivery, sport, tourism and mental wellbeing.

Craig Carey-Clinch outlined how riders in particular are a part of society with a wide range of backgrounds and interests, which in addition to playing a part in mobility, covers a vibrant leisure, plus sport, heritage and lifestyle interests, supporting both national and local economies. The sense of freedom that riding brings, plus the key factors of flexibility and affordability for users was also covered. He described how there are a wide range of views on decarbonisation and that one size does not fit all, with a need to ensure that battery electric is not the only option against an international backdrop of extensive R&D into alternatives such as clean fuels and hydrogen propulsion. He added that the industry’s proposals represent a more sensible approach to delivery than the Government’s current plans, though with the global nature of motorcycle manufacturing and use, it would be preferable for the UK to follow international developments, rather than seek to artificially force the pace. Doing this, risks restrictions on the supply of products, which could restrict choice for riders. The need for adequate infrastructure is also a key factor.

Both summed up the key messages as:

1. Appreciation for the technical challenges manufacturers face – L3-Category vehicles need more time

2. L-Category vehicles are incredibly diverse – each vehicle type’s phase out capability is different

3. Not all L-Category vehicles have the same usage

4. The consumer is far from ready – In some sectors, commercial viability to manufacture or purchase is still minimal

5. Powered two, three and light four wheelers are a vital ingredient in the traffic mix

6. The infrastructure needs to be put in place

The briefing closed with Chair of the Parliamentary Motorcycle Group, Ian Paisley MP, issuing a call or action for MPs and Peers to support the MCIA and NMC positions and to engage with riders and industry in positive way as the issue develops.

The event was followed by a display of zero emission two-wheelers, which covered a range of types from lower powered commuter machines to high powered leisure types. This outdoor event was attended by Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the House of Commons.

Fabian Hamilton MP Speaker Lindsay Hoyle

Tony Campbell, CEO MCIA said: “If manufacturers are forced to transition to zero emissions too soon, significant revenue will be lost from selling existing and near future internal combustion engined motorcycles which will have a knock-on effect when it comes to developing and manufacturing zero emission products. The complexities and nuances of our different vehicle categories must be fully considered as what’s feasible for some segments (e.g. mopeds) is not feasible for others (e.g. higher powered motorcycles).

“Before committing to any investments in new technology, it is critical we receive a guarantee from Government that, in doing so, the necessary infrastructure is in place and policies around driving demand and improving access to our sector have been implemented. We’ll continue making our case and building on our already strong working relationship with ministers and officials.”

NMC Chair Anna Zee said: “This was a hugely positive event which sent a clear message to policy makers that industry and riders have a clear and well-developed case for a more sensible and holistic approach to the path towards net zero when it comes to motorcycling and other L-Category vehicles – in a way that maintains choice for riders.  It was interesting that much attention was paid to the possibilities of alternative fuels.

“It was plain that members of the All Party Parliamentary Group for motorcycling, plus Greg Smith MP, whose constituency includes Silverstone and who hosted the briefing, take a real interest in the subject. It would appear that there is a core of MPs who are not, unlike the government, focussed solely on battery electric. They recognise that one size does not fit all and would prefer to see the UK break new ground in developing alternatives.”

Written by Craig Carey-Clinch

‍National Motorcyclists Council members are: The Auto Cycle UnionBikeSocialBikeTrac, the British Motorcyclists Federation, IAM RoadSmartMental Health Motorbikethe National Motorcycle Dealers AssociationPlantec Assistthe Trail Riders Fellowship and the Vintage Motor Cycle Club

Top image courtesy of Alan Dowds.

In article images courtesy of Anna Zee