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Here is some news that may brighten up the day of any readers who have just skinned their knuckles (and their wallet) while fitting a new battery into their ageing Fiat Ducato motorhome.


If your injured digits mean you cannot click on the above link, or it doesn't work, here is the nugget of gold that Gavin Braithwaite-Smith reveals in his article, published two days ago:

  • According to FIVA, a historic vehicle is ‘a mechanically propelled road vehicle’ that is:

    • At least 30 years old.
    • Preserved and maintained in a historically correct condition.
    • Not used as a means of daily transport.
    • Part of our technical and culture heritage.

    The final point is open to interpretation, but the reference to ‘historically correct’ leaves us in little doubt. An electrified classic cannot be classed as a historic vehicle.

    Tiddo Bresters, FIVA’s vice president, legislation, said: “It is not, in our opinion, the shape or body style of a vehicle that makes it ‘historic’, but the way in which the entire vehicle has been constructed and manufactured in its original form.

    So, this is great news for those of us with older motorhomes. FIVA are the international organisation that 'tells it like it is' to governments and policy makers, when it comes to defining motor vehicles and how they should be taxed or assessed as 'heritage' vehicles.

    Why am I jumping up and down with joy in my padded cell over this?

    Because this means that The Fiat Ducato/Peugeot/Citroen based motorhomes of 1989 and earlier are included on that list. Also, the venerable but wheezy and deafening Ford Transit from that period gets included. Also, the solid Mercedes 208 and 308 series.

    The Transit and Ducato chassis-cabs mark the dawn of the 'golden period' of European motorhome manufacture which we are still cruising through, today. Finally, a solid, reliable and pleasurable motorhome could be mass-produced using an excellent chassis and running gear. Every big name in motorhome manufacturing grabbed those vans and used them as the base for the modern motorhome which we now know and love.

    Although the main thrust of FIVA's press release was to criticise the 'electrification' of classic cars as destroying their historic heritage, their statement above opens the door for motorhome owners to claim with justification that their pre-1990 motorhome has a historic and heritage identity, besides being a completely viable means of going on vacation.

    The 1990s heralded the beginning of European van manufacturers and also motorhome manufacturers finally getting their act together and building motorhomes that were capable of being owned and operated for decades instead of just a few years. These vans are kitted out inside with pretty much the same list of basic features as a modern motorhome you can buy today. These vans can cruise at 60mph for hours on end without something glowing red and falling off. These vans are generally easily maintained and are made out of modern composite materials which are less prone to rot. These vans have 'proper' rust proofing, unlike their predecessors which did not.

    Since their original appearance in the 1950s, Motorhomes have always been seen as specialist vehicles, slightly detached from the mainstream of cars, vans and motorbikes. They were rare, expensive and a bit exclusive, not least because they cost a lot to buy and a lot more to operate. By the 1990's this changed. A three or five year old motorhome was not a worn out and rotting hulk but instead it often still looked and performed just like a new one.

    So began the explosion in the ownership of motorhomes - both new and old - and that is why you are reading this article. You own one, yourself!

    It may have been unintentional but FIVA have just acknowledged that a Motorhome can be classed as a 'Heritage Vehicle'.

    That can only be a good thing because electric motorhomes are still many years away from being offered for sale. If there is one category of vehicle that Tesla or Toyota cannot 'electrify' yet it is the motorhome. How motorhomes are used does not match what electric motors can currently do.

    Having driven many Teslas, Prius and also Fuso 7,5t diesel/electric trucks for a living, I can assure you that the existing technology gap means motorhomes will still need petrol or diesel for the foreseeable future. Ironically, motorhomes get the chance to 'plug in' to electrical supplies at most camping sites, in a similar way to how electric cars now plug in at city parking spaces. Unfortunately, those campsite supply points are not capable of recharging the power cells of an electric motorhome - they just run your microwave and kettle and your fridge and they are not powerful enough to also re-charge a bank of battery cells as well.

    However, as the urgent and logical moves towards killing off today's petrol and diesel powered vehicle gather pace, anything that helps to defend the right to roam is good for us owners. The ecological argument for motorhomes is robust and to be added to the list of protected species when it comes to heritage vehicles is a very good piece of news.



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