Carmakers around the world are racing to introduce new cars with zero exhaust emissions of carbon, and almost every big brand plans to move to battery electric technology. However, at the same time manufacturers are trying to keep selling their highly profitable diesel and petrol cars.
Tesla and Mercedes-Benz are the only firms out of 12 big manufacturers who are on course to shift to zero-emissions vehicles at a rate in line with climate goals. The carmakers that plan the slowest adoption of zero-emissions technology are the three biggest Japanese producers – Toyota, Honda and Nissan – while other laggards included South Korea’s Hyundai and General Motors in the US.
The shift to zero-emissions vehicles is seen as crucial for the world’s transition away from polluting fossil fuels. The International Energy Agency, a watchdog respected by industry and campaigners, has calculated that 57.5% of global car sales must be zero-emission vehicles by 2030 (equivalent to 52% by 2029) if global heating is to be limited to only 1.5C. Should the world go beyond that target, agreed at the 2015 Paris climate conference, the scientific consensus is that increasing proportions of the globe will become unliveable.