There was a time when I would have sniffed at the thought of relinquishing petrol as the source of my personal propulsion. That’s changed now, mostly thanks to some proper engineering talent and research being applied to the alternatives — the alternatives we now know are critical to managing the legacy we’ll leave our kids. I’ve got some of those too, of course, even if they’re nearly old enough to have kids of their own.
Earlier this year I bought a 23-year-old Triumph motorbike, which is older than both my kids, as a direct consequence of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone kicking in. The ULEZ means vehicles with certain emissions pay a daily charge to travel through the centre of the city. The owner, a cross-town commuter, wasn’t prepared to pay an emissions tax and therefore sold three great bikes cheaply to buy something newer and cleaner.
I’ll be caught up in that initiative eventually, as the same restrictions catch up with me, and I’m OK with that because the alternatives aren’t rubbish anymore.
I was struck earlier this month when Triumph’s TE-1 collaborative two-year project was announced, alongside a little operation called Williams Advanced Engineering – which is pretty good at making things go fast. They’ll develop specialist electric motorbike technology that will feed Triumph’s own generation of electric machines! Supported and co-funded by the UK government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), via Innovate UK, it’ll hopefully give a fresh edge to a company I have a lot of time for, having been one of its earliest modern-day customers in the early ‘90s.
John Bloor’s Triumph is a really solid Hinkley success story that took great British engineering and sold it to the world. I’m guessing his team figured when you’re dealing with consumers, unless the alternatives to petrol are compelling for reasons beyond being worthy, and tree-hugging, they will never fully succeed. I hope the technology it produces starts feeding in to production machines before the ULEZ gets over the River Thames to my back-yard.
C’mon the clock’s ticking chaps.