04 August 2009 /
At the launch of new generation Prius, the Chairman of Toyota New Zealand, Bob Field told journalists that reducing global car emissions will require a major transformation for both the motor industry and for international electric power generation.
Mr Field said that the long term outlook for low emission vehicle technology was shifting from hydrogen to electric cars.
Unfortunately there has been a lot of hot air generated by well meaning people who think the task of eliminating vehicle emissions is a simple process of plugging motor vehicles into the electricity grid.
"But for most countries around the world, plugging cars into the electricity grid will contribute little if anything for net emission reductions. Not only is global power generation heavily dependent on fossil fuels but, without major transformation into renewable energy, the outlook is for more of the same. The rising living standards in emerging economies which are expected to cause a tripling of the global vehicle fleet by 2050 are also expected to cause a tripling of global electricity demand over the same period."
Mr Field said that electric vehicles only made sense where electricity came from a low carbon source, like in New Zealand.
For reasons of affordability, practicality and performance I believe that the task of greening the global vehicle fleet over the next 10 years will be lead by the rapid deployment of hybrid technology around the world.
Mr Field said Plug In Hybrids will begin to emerge during this time and show considerable advantages over the pure electric car in terms of range, performance and resale value.
Mr Field concluded that ultimately it would take more than green car technology to reduce global vehicle emissions. Other factors such as downsizing, lifestyle changes and increased use of electronic media to deliver virtual mobility would all play a part.