Beer tax drop to fuel cars…

Thank you Mr Osborne.
I’m off down the pub to fill up my car with beer.

The 3p fuel duty rise due in September may have been scrapped, but the tax on beer has gone down. Impressive.

“Landlord! I’ll have eight gallons of your finest ‘heavy’. And one for yourself.”

Well, if the Chancellor can be generous, so can I. (“Unusual!” I hear them snigger down the corridors of Fleet Alliance HQ).

Running your car on alcohol is not so daft. Well, maybe here, but not in South America.
In Brazil, ethanol – which is produced through fermentation of biomass – is widely used to power cars.

Those cars still produce CO2, but the emissions roughly equate to the emissions retrieved from the air by the biomass in the first place, so give or take it’s roughly carbon neutral.

Over here, though, alternative fuels have always struggled. LPG? Still around but only useful in limited circumstances. Biofuel was also going to be big. Saab were huge on it – remember the blisteringly quick 210bhp 2.3t Saab 9-5 BioPower? – but look what happened to that fuel. And Saab.

But we shouldn’t dismiss these so lightly.

Running your car on alcohol is not so daft. In Brazil, ethanol is widely used to power cars.

After all, we’re all being encouraged to take up greener motoring with electric cars. But the recharging network is patchy, there are three different recharging connectors, range remains an issue, and possibly the biggest problem of all – we haven’t yet worked out how we are going to produce enough electricity in the future.

What we do have now, though, is an existing refuelling infrastructure. They’re called filling stations. You see them everywhere. And I’m sure it would be just as cost-effective to have them converted to an alternative fuel.

How about hydrogen, for example? Hydrogen can be used either as a fuel in its own right or to power fuel cells. It’s remarkably clean – the only exhaust emission from a fuel cell car is water – so it’s undoubtedly a fuel of the future. Or how about CNG?

In Italy, the use of CNG (compressed natural gas) is gaining in popularity. Little wonder. It costs as little as eight euro for 75 miles. And Italians know a bargain when they see one.

It all suggests the conversation around future fuels in the UK is too polarised. Perhaps we should all go to the pub to talk it through.

I’ll drink to that!