Classic car owners are feeling added pressure from sustainability scrutiny and parts supply to keep their vehicles on the road, a classic and collector car industry report shows. Researched, written and compiled by one of the leading classic vehicle insurance providers Footman James, the Indicator Report suggests that the classic car industry must safeguard its future through sustainable solutions and technology, or risk a decline in the sector.
Footman James' data within its Indicator Report shows that 47 per cent of its audience is feeling the pressure of environmental scrutiny on classic cars that the climate change debate brings. Amidst this ever-prevalent debate, the report presents owners and firms with the options available to ensure the ongoing relevance and growth of the classic car industry, which include electric powertrain conversions, synthetic fuels, 3D printed components and carbon offsetting schemes.
The 50+ page long Indicator Report discusses the future of classic cars during a time in which emissions, efficient solutions and environmental causes are at the forefront of modern discourse. The report also highlights that despite increased investment in new electric vehicle (EV) solutions, some OEMs have opted to remake older components from previous model years but with modern, sustainable manufacturing methods, in a bid to keep their previous generations of vehicles on the road. Alongside this insight, Footman James' research shows the growing classic car aftermarket industry is offering new technology for enthusiasts to utilise to maintain their classics, such as 3D printed parts - crucial for smaller volumes of component production that may be hard to source or no longer supported by manufacturers - and more efficient parts, or tyres, which allow for less rolling resistance.
The report, available to download for free, also states that despite the classic car industry's current strong performance – with estimated total spending said to be £7.2bn, up from £5.5bn in 2016 – its future is still at risk. In Footman James' last news update, it highlighted that the manufacturing process for the Polestar 2 produces 26 tonnes of CO2 alone, an emissions figure that would take a typical classic car 46 years to match. Despite the enticing prospect of zero-tailpipe emissions from a brand new electric vehicle, classic cars are said to be far less impactful on the environment long-term due to their infrequent use and fact that they have previously been manufactured. While the Footman James team agrees that electric vehicles can be more environmentally friendly than a brand-new Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) car on CO2/km alone, it urges drivers to focus on the end-to-end lifecycle of any new EV, rather than just the shorter-term zero CO2/km measurement.
Evaluating the end-to-end lifecycle, one solution growing in popularity is that of electrification of existing vehicles, with companies such as Electric Classic Cars and Lunaz Design offering full EV conversions for classic cars; the latter providing comprehensive restorations and enhancements. Footman James' Indicator Report explains that the modular approach to electrification is prevalent as well; Electrogenic, another company to provide classic electric car conversions, offers proprietary vehicle and battery management systems to help control and upgrade complete powertrains, but retain the ability to reinstall the original engine, as well as all-electric kits that are designed to be installed by any qualified mechanics. This research shows that there are already multiple options of varying costs for the environmentally conscious enthusiast and EV conversions remain a reliable solution for keeping classic vehicles on the road going forward.
Meanwhile, for those classic car owners looking to safeguard originality and preserve what makes a classic car 'classic', the report offers more indirect solutions for safeguarding the internal combustion engine of their vehicles. Carbon offsetting schemes, with plenty of apps also available to download for this purpose alone, offer a way to reduce one's vehicle carbon emissions, without directly changing any aspects of a vehicle. These schemes are popular with Footman James itself, who has partnered with carbon offsetting firm, Chrome Carbon. Owners can purchase credits to offset the carbon footprint for a classic car, with proceeds then being invested in a range of environmental projects such as rainforest protection and renewable energy.
Modern advances such as synthetic fuels are proven to provide classic car owners with hope, as journalist and Footman James ambassador Harry Metcalfe succinctly explains in the Indicator Report: "The ace classic cars have up their sleeve is sustainable fuels, or E-fuels, which I predict will be the salvation for motorsport over the coming years. Running a classic car on carbon-neutral fuel is a distinct possibility within this decade and combined with their low mileage usage and the fact a fully restored classic has the potential to last indefinitely (something you can't say about an EV due to battery degradation), could well make our hobby highly sustainable well into the future."
Footman James, MD, David Bond said: "The Indicator Report is crucial for helping our clients and fellow enthusiasts understand the current state of the classic car industry amidst the ever-important issue of climate change. We know the industry is thriving right now, but as the report tells us, we must be conscious of the effects of climate change and the fact we may have to adapt our beloved classics, or the way we use them, for the times ahead.
"It's clear that our audience is concerned about the future of classic cars, and hopefully, the report's suggestions of sustainable solutions will provide some clarity for owners and enthusiasts about the options available to them and their vehicles."