November 16, 2022 | Automotives
The market for electric vehicles is expanding rapidly, with sales poised to hit an all-time high this year.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that global sales of EVs doubled in 2021, and 2022 is expected to see them take 13% of total light duty vehicle sales globally, up from 9% last year.
While that still represents a small share of the total vehicle market, EVs are on track for 2030 milestones in the IEA’s net-zero by 2050 scenario. Changing consumer preferences, higher gas prices and government regulations are driving the shift toward EVs.
In the U.S., California and New York have both announced new rules mandating 100% of new vehicles sold be zero emissions by 2035.
Transitioning to EVs is necessary for automotive companies seeking to hit emission reduction goals by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050.
However, transitioning to a fully electric fleet won’t be enough on its own to get automotive companies all the way to net-zero emissions.
A full EV product line is estimated to reduce emissions only by 65% by 2030 vs. the 2021 baseline, leaving more work to do to reach net-zero by 2050.
To achieve emissions-reduction goals, automakers must collaborate on new solutions.
Most of an automotive company’s emissions come from Scope 3 categories , in particular Categories 1 (purchased goods and services) and 11 (use of sold products). Category 11 emissions include CO2 emitted from gasoline as well as the electricity, generated from various fuels, to charge EVs.
The ability of automotive companies to reach their net-zero goals depends not only on reducing the carbon intensity of the manufacturing processes for autos and EV batteries, but also on the energy and utilities sector to provide carbon-neutral electricity to charge those vehicles.
Collaboration across value chains is essential to making the kind of progress that is needed to hit targets. Companies should work with charging infrastructure providers, governments and industry associations to increase customer awareness and use of renewable energy sources.
Some of the ways they’ve already started doing that include:
In April the US Dept. of Energy announced the Vehicle to Everything Memorandum of Understanding, bringing together the DOE, state and local governments, utilities and private companies, including Ford, General Motors and Nissan, to accelerate the development of bidirectional charging infrastructure that can power vehicles and also push power back to the electrical grid when needed.
Bidirectional plug-in electric vehicles have potential to improve energy security and resilience, create new revenue opportunities for EV owners and be a more sustainable transportation option.
While electric vehicles may not produce carbon emissions directly the way gasoline-powered vehicles do, the production of EV batteries involves energy-intensive processes that increase their overall carbon footprint.Reducing that footprint by improving battery recycling is an important step.
Companies such as RWE in Germany and Veolia are developing facilities to reuse spent EV batteries. Automakers such as Volvo and Ford have partnered with Redwood Materials, a startup in California that is launching an EV battery-recycling program.
The above are just some of the ways that automotive companies are addressing sustainability through the transition to electric vehicles.