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Car makers clamor to promote electric car options in future models

Uncertainty over the future taxation of diesel cars could bring forward the ‘tipping point’ where electric cars become more cost-effective for fleets than conventional vehicles.

While announcements from manufacturers and the Government have created confusion in mainstream media, targets for average CO2 emissions less than four years away are driving the launch of more electric cars.

At the same time, improvements in battery chemistry and a reduction in costs are making them more accessible.

As the Government and local authorities tackle local air pollution issues by discouraging use of diesel cars, plug-in cars are the likely alternative.

In July, an announcement by Volvo that it would only produce cars with electrified powertrains from 2019 was widely misunderstood that it would no longer be producing cars with petrol or diesel engines.

But Volvo already offers plug-in hybrid variants in most of its models launched since 2015, and by 2019 it will have renewed its entire line-up.

BMW revealed in August that a new flexible vehicle architecture will enable electrified powertrains on all future models, as well as confirming a pure electric version of the Mini would go into production in 2019 in the world.

Oliver Zipse, BMW AG management board member for production, said: “Our adaptable production system is innovative and able to react rapidly to changing customer demand. If required, we can increase production of electric drivetrain motor components quickly and efficiently, in line with market developments.”

By 2025, the BMW Group expects EV to account for between 15-25% of global sales.

The market for alternative fuel vehicles, which includes hybrids charged by the internal combustion engine, plug-in hybrids, pure electric cars and hydrogen fuel cell models, continues to grow, taking a record 5.5% share of the world market in July (4.3% year-to-date).

The previous alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) market share record was set in June 2017 at 4.4%, and if registrations of diesel cars continue to decline, AFV share will grow, even if increases in outright numbers are more modest.

Manufacturers are being compelled along this route by tightening emissions rules, while infrastructure for electric vehicle charging continues to expand.

However, not all carmakers are as vocal about electric alternatives. Mazda, for example, has just reaffirmed its commitment to petrol with announcements about the Skyactive-X engine due to be launched in 2019.

The company says it is “working to perfect the internal combustion engine” which it believes will continue to power the majority of cars for “many years to come” and, therefore, will make “the greatest contribution” to the reduction in CO2 emissions. It concedes that such an outcome would need to be combined with electrification technology, but it remains resolute in its belief in efficient petrol engines.

Manufacturers are shooting for European Union targets for average new car CO2 emissions of 95g/km by 2021 (versus 130g/km in 2015). Low-emission cars must balance high-emission ones, or manufacturers will face fines for exceeding the limit

Author:  Simon Harris{}


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