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“EV is the future, but legislation must not make ICE unaffordable”

Deputy editor John McIlroy agrees electric is the endgame, but is worried that regulations could wipe out a good five years’ worth of cleaner petrol cars

Opinion - Skoda Fabia

It’s been a big week for Skoda, with CEO Klaus Zellmer standing up in front of the world’s media to announce an expansion and acceleration of the brand’s electrification plans. Six new EVs are coming by 2026 – and by the end of the decade, Skoda wants seven out of every 10 vehicles it sells in Europe to be pure-electric.

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It’s an ambitious plan. And yet, away from the glitzy presentation, Zellmer was actually more concerned with the future of his combustion-engined cars, threatened as they are by European Union emissions rules that are the subject of much horse trading at present.

We’ve covered this topic before on Auto Express, but it does appear that while some progress is being made, there’s still a risk that overly strict regulations could wipe out a good five years’ worth of cleaner petrol cars – precisely the sort of vehicles that many of us will still want to use during the transitional period to electric. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water.

During our briefing, Zellmer came across as optimistic that the message is getting through to those rubber-stamping the regulations. But he wasn’t beyond reminding everyone that there’s actually little point in creating a set of rules so strict and expensive to meet, that nobody can make an affordable car to comply with them.

“What will happen,” he says, “when a 15,000 Euro car like the Fabia suddenly becomes a 20,000 Euro car? Simple. People will choose to not buy it, and will stay in their old, relatively dirty Euro 4 or Euro 5 cars. It’s ridiculous; if you make the ‘next choice’ unaffordable, then it won’t improve the environmental situation at all.” And you can bet that if this situation arises, Skoda will just pull the Fabia out of showrooms.

We’re all aware that electrification is the endgame. But when the boss of one of the mainstream brands says he’s worried about how we’re going to get there, we can only hope that the right people are listening.

Click here for our list of the cheapest electric cars on sale right now...

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Editor-at-large

John started journalism reporting on motorsport – specifically rallying, which he had followed avidly since he was a boy. After a stint as editor of weekly motorsport bible Autosport, he moved across to testing road cars. He’s now been reviewing cars and writing news stories about them for almost 20 years.

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