‘Securing the future of our motoring heritage’, that is the title of the policy paper that was presented by the European Parliament Historic Vehicle Group (EPHVG).
The policy paper was presented by Bernd Lange, Member of the European Parliament for the S&D group and FEMA’s general secretary Dolf Willigers was present.
The paper emphasizes the importance of motorized vehicles in our history and the need to preserve them as important part of our heritage. The EPHVG also thinks it is important to keep these vehicles moving. The paper deals with the challenges that owners of historic vehicles face in their attempt to preserve and use their vehicle on the road, be it a car, motorcycle, truck, bus or agricultural vehicle.
Issues that are at stake are road safety, emissions, sound, low emission zones, connected and in the future automatic driving cars, maintenance and economic aspects. The paper gives the view of the working group to these aspects and the way to deal with them and secure the future of the ownership and use of historic vehicles. Mr. Lange stressed the importance of a proper definition of historic vehicles, to be able to get some kind of standardization of measures all over Europe, e.g. the admission of historic vehicles to low emission zones.
Most important part of the event was a presentation by professor Bert van Wee of the Technical University Delft (Netherlands) about some of the most important aspects. Van Wee studied these aspects for cars, because there are no such studies for motorcycles. However, in our opinion, what is said about cars goes for motorcycles too, only with different figures.
Safety – Van Wee spoke first about safety aspects and concluded that although historic vehicles lack the passive and active safety features of modern vehicles, there are less fatalities per million cars or per kilometre because of driver compensation, slower cars and use in better circumstances. In the view of Van Wee cars in general will be safer, partly as a result of the development of automated vehicles. Automated vehicles will always need to share the road with non-automated vehicles and even non-connected road users, which in the end the road will be safer for all cars, including historic vehicles.
Environment – The next aspect mentioned was the environment. Indeed, historic vehicles have much higher emissions of pollutants per kilometre. The biggest problems are NOx and PM (particulate matters). CO2 is not the largest problem, and in view of the small share of historic vehicles in traffic no problem (yet). To look at it as emission per kilometre is just one way to do that. Other angles can be to look at spending, and then it turns out that CO2 (in fact cost of fuel) is just a small part. Policies to reduce emissions need to be effective, efficient and fair, and mainly focussed on toxic emissions like NO2 and PM. For cleaner air we need lower limits. Historic vehicles cannot comply with these standards, but because of their limited numbers and use, to forbid them would be too blunt. A solution can be found in charging per kilometre. A moderate tariff (in terms of € 0,10 per kilometre) would not hurt the owner of a historic vehicle and is an incentive to make limited use of the vehicle.
‘There is a future for the motoring heritage’.
Congestion – The third aspect that Van Wee has studied is congestion. This will not be a problem as the share of historic vehicles will be very low in the future: even though the number of historic vehicles is rising, the share is still increasing. Also the participation of historic vehicles in mixed traffic (with automatic and connected driving cars) should not be a problem. Only when automatic driving cars will become the standard, it could become a problem. However, with an average lifespan of seventeen years for cars and the automated cars still not being made for the general public, this will take many decades. Another aspect of this is that historic vehicles are as a rule not used during rush hours, but mainly in the weekends and with fair weather.
Jobs – The last aspect that was studied and discussed by professor Van Wee was jobs. In the European Union 100,000 to 140,000 people are professionally involved in the upkeeping of historic vehicles. In the future, it may be a problem to find qualified mechanics who know how to maintain and repair older vehicles. It might be necessary to put some effort in searching and training mechanics who are familiar with historic vehicles. Of course, when it is no longer possible to keep the rolling heritage on the road, these jobs and others that are connected with historic vehicles will disappear. In the vision of Van Wee that shouldn’t be to much of a problem, because the money that is now spent on historic vehicles will be spent on other expenditures.
Top photograph by Wim Taal.