Tokyo Motor Show: Spotlight on the zero-carbon transport futureThe We Mean Business coalition
The opening of this year’s Tokyo Motor Show shone a spotlight on the future of transport. Amid the hype over hoverbikes and living rooms on wheels, there was a clear message from many of the world’s largest automakers – the shift to electric vehicles (EVs) is accelerating and has never looked cooler.
Many of the major Japanese auto manufacturers took the opportunity to launch new EV models, including Toyota Motor Corp, Nissan Motor and Mazda Motor Corp., which unveiled its first compact electric SUV.
During the event, Honda announced that it plans to stop producing gasoline-only cars in Europe by 2022 and plans to electrify its entire fleet by 2030. Honda also announced plans to work with European power utility Vattenfall to offer its customers a flexible electricity tariff that will allow cars to be charged at the most cost-effective times during the day.
As previously announced, Toyota aims to have EVs account for more than half its global sales by around 2025, roughly 5.5 million units, while Mazda aims for all of its vehicles to be electric hybrid or EVs by 2030. Both Toyota and Nissan are committed to science-based targets with the Science Based Targets initiative, among other We Mean Business partner commitments.
Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler AG and Renault SA were two of the major non-Japanese automakers taking part in the Tokyo show, using the opportunity to highlight their latest electric models. Daimler has committed to making its entire passenger car fleet carbon neutral by the close of 2039. Building on the company’s commitment for cars, Daimler Trucks & Buses – one of the world’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturers – has now committed to offer only new vehicles that are CO2-neutral in driving operation (“tank-to-wheel”) in the key markets of Europe, Japan and North America by 2039.
Both Daimler and Groupe Renault are also committed to science-based targets.
Ahead of the Tokyo Motor Show, Volvo Cars announced it aims to be climate neutral by 2040 as the group launched its first fully electric cars. Previously Volvo committed to launching no new cars that relied solely on internal combustion engines after 2019.
Radical shift underway
The increasing commitment from the world’s largest automakers to embrace innovation and switch to electric vehicles underscores the radical shift underway in the transport sector towards zero-carbon mobility.
One of the key reasons automakers are shifting is because demand from companies for EVs is rapidly increasing. EV100, a global initiative led by The Climate Group, now has 59 member companies committed to accelerating the transition to EVs and making electric transport the new normal by 2030. These include Chinese internet giant Baidu, global logistics company Deutsche Post DHL Group and the world’s largest consumer goods group Unilever.
It is clear to any attendee at the Tokyo Motor show that fully electric fleets are possible by 2030. However, the transition is not happening fast enough globally to bend the curve of transport emissions to be in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The explosion of new electric models, and progressively more ambitious commitments from auto manufacturers should give a strong vote of confidence to policy makers that the industry is ready and able to go further and faster, with the right policies in place. We see the transition is happening faster in places with supportive policies, for example Norway and California, showing that policy makers have a critical role to play in stepping up policy ambition to in turn give auto manufacturers and investors the confidence they need to invest decisively in zero-carbon transport.
To support a successful transition to zero-carbon transport, governments should put an end to internal combustion engine sales by 2030 backed by increasing sales targets for EVs. They should also implement increasingly stringent emissions standards for all road vehicles, support fiscal incentives for electric vehicles and invest in electric vehicle infrastructure.
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