A study has found that the world’s biggest automakers plan to produce about 400 million more gasoline-powered cars than what is sustainable to contain global heating, as per The Guardian.
Researchers from Greenpeace Germany, University of Technology Sydney (UTS), and the University of Applied Sciences of the Industry (FHDW) Bergisch Gladbach compared at which rate the world needs to embrace zero-emission vehicles with the rate at which major auto companies are planning to produce numerous models.
Automakers on track to produce more petrol cars
The report, which focused on 12 automakers globally, presented some most popular brands (Hyundai/Kia, Toyota, and Volkswagen) were on the path to producing more gasoline-powered cars than what is sustainable if the world is to limit global warming to the Paris climate agreement target of 1.5C.
Researchers calculated the global carbon budget, which is how much carbon the world can still release and stay within a 1.5C envelope, using a climate model developed by UTS and arrived with a figure of 53 Gt.
“The carbon budget of 53Gt allows for the sale of an additional 315 million ICE [internal combustion engine] vehicles as of 2022,” stated the report.
“At the same time, however, projected ICE sales range between at least 645m and 778m vehicles. This represents an overshoot of 105% to 147% compared to the 1.5°C-compatible number of ICE sales.”
Car companies to stop petrol engine production by 2025
Toyota, Volkswagen, & Hyundai to produce millions of gas-powered cars
However, Toyota is expected to produce 63 million more gasoline-powered cars than what’s sustainable, followed by Volkswagen with 43 million and Hyundai with 39 million, found the report.
An associate professor at UTS and co-author of the report, Sven Teske, stated the research revealed a need for a global prohibition on new petrol vehicles beyond 2030.
“By 2030 at the very latest, all new vehicles sold on the market must be electric,” said Teske.
Dr Robin Smit, a director at Transport Energy/Emission Research who’s not involved in the report, said: “Australia had become a market for heavy, thirsty SUVs.”
“The sustained and increasing proportion of large and heavy passenger vehicles in on-road fleets around the world and particularly in Australia has a detrimental effect on energy efficiency and global greenhouse gas emissions,” stated Smit.
A senior campaigner at Greenpeace, Lindsay Soutar, said the company fell behind in embracing zero-emission vehicles and its global lobbying efforts stalled policies to boost change.
“What the report shows and what we found is that Toyota is the worst performer of the lot,” Soutar said.
“The report shows they are the least on track of all the big four in Australia.”
Soutar added other companies like Volkswagen campaigned for better policy in Australia, “which is positive”. However, it still needed to do more. A Toyota Australia spokesperson stated the company was the “largest supplier of hybrid vehicles in Australia with more than 300,000 sold since 2001.”
“Toyota is not limited to a single technical solution,” said the spokesperson.
“We remain absolutely committed to providing our customers with a diverse range of vehicles and technologies, including [battery electric vehicles], that will help them on their journey to zero tailpipe emissions based on their individual motoring circumstances, ensuring no one is left behind.”
The spokesperson stated Toyota Australia “would welcome” the introduction of a mandatory new-vehicle CO2 emission standard that “works to support the achievement of the Paris agreement goals”.
Volkswagen Group Australia to bring new battery EV models
Specifically speaking about Australia, a spokesperson for Volkswagen Group Australia said the company planned to bring some new battery EV models into the country.
“While Volkswagen Group Australia has this year secured production approval for a range of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, these are sourced from Europe, where demand overwhelms supply,” the spokesperson stated.
“Although progress is at last being made, Australia remains a considerable distance behind other developed countries in creating the conditions for EVs. The mandating of an emissions target for auto importers will ensure a greater supply of affordable EVs and enable mass market importers to meet demand.”
Hyundai Australia was asked for comment.
Zero-carbon vehicle demands
Behyad Jafari, from the Electric Vehicle Council, stated that demand for zero-carbon vehicles was “absolutely there”, but consumers were forced to purchase petrol cars due to supply shortages.
“The reality is every EV coming here has been sold and been sold out six months before it lands,” said Jafari.
“Car companies will point to all their petrol vehicles as an indicator of customer demand but they’re not telling you people are walking into their dealerships and asking for electric vehicles every day.”
Jafari continued that since Australia postponed converting its car fleet to electric, and the average life of a vehicle is almost 20 years, the government needs to act quickly to meet its international emissions obligations.
“The question is how much of a burden are we placing on every other sector?” he said.
“How much are farmers, industry and other sectors going to have to cut their emissions more to make up for the fact that some car companies want to make more money now?”