Talk Green Cars, Buy Gas Guzzlers

So-called “green” electric cars are making more noise than actual sales. While electrification of road vehicles is dominating headlines and EV car sales made a big leap in 2020, they only still accounted for 4.6% of global car sales. By some estimates, even if the initiatives by established automakers and certain countries to phase out fossil-fuel-powered vehicles by 2030 succeed, Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars will still remain the majority on public roads due to their long lifespan.

Presently, much of the sales and subsequent usage of electric vehicle are driven by goverment regulations and incentives, rather than genuine customer demand. In fact, sales of big cars aka SUVs aka thirsty gas-guzzlers are on the rise.

For instance, Beijing began rolling back subsidies for New Energy Vehicles (NEV) in June 2019, thinking that production has gotten cheaper and therefore did not require further goverment support. The plan was to remove subsidies completely by December 2020. What followed was month after month of declining EV sales, before a big plunge in January 2020 when the pandemic hit. Beijing then extended the subsidy support with a later phase-out deadline of 2022, and the sales of NEVs bounced back.

So, what do consumers really think about EVs and do they even want one? According to a 2020 global study by Deloitte, most consumers actually think that EVs are worse than ICE cars in terms of driving range, purchase price, residual value, repair and maintenance costs, performance and handling, reliability and safety. They, however, think that EVs are better as a status symbol and for their image, cheaper to refuel and, of course, better for the environment, although we would disagree with that last point.

The same study found that over 50% of consumers are considering an ICE car for their next vehicle purchase. While this number had shrunk slightly from the year prior and there is an increased interest in non-ICE vehicles, consumers are more keen on hybrid vehicles and other alternative-powered vehicles, such as hydrogen and natural gas, than fully electric ones.

So, it looks like the ICE is here to stay for awhile but it’s not all bad news for the environment. In fact, in the last 30 years, technological advancements have helped reduce pollutants in ICE emissions by more than 99%. Electric vehicles have their own set of issues that are only just beginning to be addressed – dirty energy source, overmining of rare metals, battery disposal, etc.

For now, if you want to do right by Mother Earth, don’t feel bad if you are choosing to buy a gas guzzler over an electric car. Rather, make sure that your ICE vehicle is running at peak efficiency – keeping it well-maintained, removing excess weight, using the right additives, etc– so that your car is consuming fossil fuel efficiently and thus using less of it, emitting minimal pollutants and doing as little harm to the environment as possible.

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