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“Recent carmaker pledges of a green, emissions-free future filled with electric vehicles (EVs) have created a smokescreen, hiding a near-term push by the same car companies to sell millions of carbon-polluting sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) and light trucks. Emissions from these soaring numbers of SUVs are affecting our climate now and risk jeopardizing national and international targets to curb climate change,” according to Environmental Defence Canada. (This post is sourced from Car Wars: SUVs versus EVs and the Battle for a Cleaner Future, a report released by Environmental Defence.)

Car Wars: SUVs versus EVs

If you’ve been waiting for a SUV-size BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) as I have, be very very patient. My order is in for a Volkswagon ID4 model but it will take 18-24 months for delivery. Demand far exceeds production and it will take years before availability approaches demand.

Why is that you may ask? Well, SUVs are cash cows.

Car Wars: The Battle Between SUVs and EVs, Below2C

Production plans for North America’s two biggest car companies, GM and Ford, suggest they’re readying to build more than 5 million SUVs and pickups in North America in 2026, but only about 320,000 EVs. That’s because SUVs — which cost little more than regular cars to manufacture but sell for higher prices — make companies and carmaker executives rich. To keep the payout coming, automakers pour billions of ad dollars into convincing car buyers to drive the larger, less-fuel-efficient vehicles.

While GM and Ford both say they want to become “carbon neutral” by 2035 and 2050, respectively, soaring sales of gas-powered SUVs from these and other carmakers have helped triple SUV carbon emissions over the past 10 years. These large vehicles are now the second leading cause of rising CO2 emissions worldwide after power generation. Researchers warn that if the climb in SUV numbers doesn’t slow, exhaust from these vehicles will cancel climate gains equal to emissions-savings from 150 million electric vehicles (EVs) by 2040.

In Canada, 4 out of every 5 vehicles sold is an SUV, pickup truck or van but only 1.6% are electric. Canadians own and drive the world’s most polluting vehicles. The following video shows why car companies are spending millions to maintain the status quo.

CAR WARS: SUVs vs. EVs and the Battle for a Cleaner Future
June 17, 2021
Standard YouTube licence

Canada Needs A Plan to Stop the SUV Surge

Automakers will not voluntarily encourage or facilitate the transition from gas-guzzling SUVs to clean EVs. Government must act to stop car companies from filling our roadways with carbon-polluting vehicles. Environmental Defence is recommending the following actions:

  • put new federal taxes on SUVs and pickups to discourage purchases of these larger vehicles and use those revenues to pay for incentives for EV buyers — a “feebate” program, similar to programs in Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
  • strengthen emission standards (fuel economy regulations) in line with the most stringent in North America.
  • introduce a strict national zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) standard that requires automakers to sell a minimum percentage of EVs as a portion of total new vehicle sales each year, starting with the 2022 model year, reaching 100 per cent by 2035 at the latest.
  • improve financial incentives including consumer cash rebates and/or tax breaks (e.g., sales tax relief, income tax credits, etc.) to increase affordability for new and used EVs especially for lower and middle income buyers.

“Indeed, our report, Car Wars, EVs vs. SUVs and the Battle for a Cleaner Future, exposes how carmakers’ promises of an all-electric future mask their push to sell more SUVs now, contributing to rising emissions from transportation, which is the second largest source of carbon emissions in Canada,” writes Keith Brooks (Programs Director) in his Environmental Defence a blog piece.

Click on infographics for cool info about SUVs versus EVs

Traditional Car Companies Are Zombies: Dead But Don’t Know It Yet
Industrial Age of Energy and Transportation Over by 2030

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.Creative Commons License

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  1. I really don’t understand what is wrong with society – and why is this information not on the front page of each and every newspaper and website across the globe. Personally, I continue to drive a gas vehicle. However, I only drive it once a week. It’s currently 6 years old, and when it is time to get a new one, I will not be getting any car, whatsoever. I will take public transit. It is nothing but a media brainwash that everyone “needs” a car. Thanks for all that you do to bring attention to the issue – it’s anxiety inducing, but the more we know, the more we can be informed and make decisions that will affect ourselves, as well as future generations.

    • Welcome to Below2C.

      It seems that when it comes to tackling climate change, nothing is easy. Even the shift to clean EV cars is meeting strong resistance from traditional automakers and the oil and gas sector.

      Thank you for your feedback.


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