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As we approach the end of 2018, it is an opportunity to reflect on the year ending as well as look forward to what the future might hold.
I’m writing this at a time when the world is recovering from some cataclysmic weather events: massive storms and floods in the Eastern United States and Indonesia, wild fires in Western USA, and incredibly hot summers in Europe.
As Jacinda Ardern has said, climate change is her generation’s nuclear-free moment, and this certainly seems to be the topic of the times. Several years ago New Zealand made commitments at the Paris climate change conference and certainly 2018 has seen significant government action to determine how we can meet those emission-reduction commitments. There has been a significant report from the productivity commission and a consultation on restructuring the emissions trading scheme, and negotiations between the parties on a zero carbon act are apparently well advanced.
Meanwhile, with growing public awareness of climate change and a surge in global oil prices, consumer behaviour is starting to change significantly.
Toyota’s sales of self-charging, electric hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles have risen by over 40 per cent in the past two years; our sales of electric used vehicles imported from Japan have tripled. Even more growth is expected in 2019 as we introduce additional electric vehicles. We are working towards having an electrified version of every vehicle available by 2025.
The electric vehicle is ideal for New Zealand because we are blessed with a high proportion of our electricity being generated from renewable, low-carbon sources. We don’t have to burn coal to generate electricity.
Batteries still have some challenges in terms of range, lifespan and recharging times and infrastructure, so our main focus has been hybrids: self-charging and plug-in hybrids.
These still deliver significant (30-60per cent) reductions in emissions compared with a conventional internal combustion engine, but don’t have the range/recharging issues of a pure electric vehicle. Toyota believes that the best source of electricity for motor vehicles may not be a conventional lithium-ion battery at all. Ultimately, hydrogen may be New Zealand’s, and the World’s, best mobility power source. To make clean hydrogen one needs water and renewable electricity (things we have in abundance) and when it powers an electric car, the only emission is...Water. New Zealand is starting to explore this as a future energy source. Toyota already sells a hydrogen fuel cell car in some markets – this may well be the way of the future.