Electric and hydrogen are best for manufacturer CO2 reductions

05 April 2019

5 April 2019

Electric vehicles (EVs) are the best way for manufacturers to achieve EU CO2 targets. However, the development of hydrogen should also be a priority, according to the results of the latest Autovista Group survey.

Carmakers are currently rushing the research and development of EVs, with many seeing them as essential to beat 2021 CO2 targets, before further, and stricter, targets are put in place. Around 38% of voters agreed with manufacturer belief that this was the best way to reduce pollution levels, especially in the wake of falling diesel sales.

EVs are expensive to develop and may not hit the same margins as traditional internal combustion engine cars until 2025. This is why some manufacturers are looking to collaborate on technology. It is clear, therefore, that electric is the way forward, for now, in many executive minds.

However, with 31% of the total poll, the development of hydrogen systems was not far behind. This technology is seen as the perfect bridge between the cleanliness of electric vehicles and the practicality of petrol and diesel engines. Hydrogen tanks take the same time to refill as the two fossil fuels and the range is around 300 miles – yet vehicles only emit water, making them emission-free. Hydrogen technology is considerably less advanced. However, Toyota has pushed a car to market and is opening up patents on the systems it produces to advance the market further. Infrastructure is another obstacle but has also been the case with EV charging.

For some, however, the petrol and diesel engine is not dead. In a rare tie, 12% of voters opted for the choice of improving petrol engines, while the same number chose the development of better diesels. Both types of engine have been around for over 100 years and carmakers are experts in their craft. Diesel engines already emit low CO2 levels but it nitrogen oxide (NOx) has become the bane of the industry since the Dieselgate scandal.

The European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) highlighted recently that new diesels are the cleanest ever. For petrol, rising CO2 in Europe highlights how much work needs to be done, yet Mazda’s Skyactiv-X solution does prove that development will result in cleaner petrol technology.

Investment in mobility services saw a small number of respondents (5%) as this is not currently, a core business model, generating smaller revenues than car sales. Nevertheless, this is an area of development, with some manufacturers pooling their resources to ensure they offer mobility services, especially in urban areas, which would help to take vehicles off the road. This has the added goal of helping them to adapt to a change in ownership patterns amongst younger consumers.

Other gained a 2% share, with many suggesting that manufacturers should look to reducing CO2 from their plants in Europe. Other respondents pointed out that the trend for SUV models is contributing to increased pollution and, in line with that, reducing the weight of vehicles was also given as a way to stem the increase of carbon dioxide emissions.