Dep-O Magazine

Report: Classic Cars’ Lower CO2 Impact Than New EV Or ICE Cars

A specialist classic and collector vehicle industry report shows that when compared to modern vehicles, classic cars are much less damaging to the environment. A finding that is hardly a surprise to many classic owners…

According to Footman James’ Indicator Report, the average classic emits 563kg of CO2 per year, yet an average passenger car has a 6.8-tonne carbon footprint immediately after production. The report shows that two-thirds of classic car enthusiasts are already concerned about climate change, with over 50 per cent open to further benefiting the environment with emissions offsetting schemes.

Report: Classic Cars’ Lower CO2 Impact Than New Cars

Statistics in the 50-page report show that the average classic car — travelling a national UK yearly average of 1200* miles – generates 563kg of CO2 per year. In comparison, a typical modern car such as a Volkswagen Golf emits up to 6.8 tonnes of CO2 before it even leaves the factory. The in-depth research study also states that even though a modern car would, in fact, be more efficient and use less fuel if used on a daily basis, the environmental cost of manufacturing a new vehicle immediately negates this.

Additionally, the Indicator Report mentions that battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) have even more of an impact in terms of average carbon emissions footprint than a classic or modern internal combustion engine car. The fully electric Polestar 2, for example, is said to create 26 tonnes of CO2 during its production process alone — an emissions figure that would take a typical classic car 46 years to match. This shows that despite the enticing prospect of zero-exhaust emissions from an electric vehicle, classic cars have far less impact on the environment long-term due to their infrequent use.

Report: Classic Cars’ Lower CO2 Impact Than New Cars

Further data in the report also helps to indicate how classic car owners and enthusiasts feel about their carbon footprint and the effect of driving on the environment in general. The report features a poll, which shows that two-thirds (66 per cent) of Footman James’ audience are already environmentally conscious and concerned about the effects of climate change. In addition, over half (52 per cent) of polled audience said they would consider signing up for a vetted scheme to reduce their classic cars’ impact on the environment through carbon emissions offsetting.

Managing Director of Footman James, David Bond explained: “The Indicator Report is extremely useful in determining how much of an impact our beloved classics have on the environment. It’s easy for one to assume that classic cars are more damaging simply because of their older and less efficient engines, however, the data in this report disproves that theory. It’s really about how these vehicles are maintained and used; it is clear that while new modern and electric cars might seem better for the planet day-to-day, the problem is how much of an impact their production causes.

Report: Classic Cars’ Lower CO2 Impact Than New Cars

“Speaking to our audience, we’re glad to discover that a substantial portion is concerned about the effects of climate change, and many would sign up for emissions offsetting schemes. The future of classic cars is in our hands, and we must do everything we can to ensure they stay on the road.”

*The source of the 1200 mile figure is the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) 2020/21 report which analysed DVLA data. This may be an unrepresentative figure, given the series of Covid lockdowns which took place at that time. Of course, this report does not mention pollution impact from build materials (e.g. plastics or lithium) either.

Report: Classic Cars’ Lower CO2 Impact Than New Cars


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