In a recent headline by Reuters, it was reported that Volkswagen and Volvo, owned by China’s Geely, are doing enough to electrify their line-up in Europe.

Volkswagen launched more variants of plug-in hybrids (PHEV) of their conventional models as well as the introduction of the ID.3 EV model. Volvo meanwhile launched the C40 Recharge EV earlier this year joining the 2020 XC40 Recharge Pure Electric, but sales of the former will only be reflective from summer 2021.

The report that quotes findings from a study by Transport and Environment (T&E) that BMW, Toyota and Daimler are meanwhile ranked worst as they have low EV sales, no strategy and over-reliance on hybrids.

Upon further analysis of the information available, it seems that Volvo and Volkswagen are working the hardest as they were one of the higher ’polluters’ in Europe and they face a hefty penalty for this.

Source: August 2020- ICCT CO2 Emissions from new passenger cars in Europe

Volkswagen was fined more than EUR100 million (RM490 million) for missing its CO2 target from its 2020 passenger car fleet. Automakers are faced with a EUR95 (RM470) fine for each g/km of excess CO2 they emit multiplied by the number of vehicles registered in that year.  

The Volkswagen Group, consisting of five volume-selling brands (Audi, Porsche, Seat, Skoda) has an estimated market share of 25%, significantly higher than the next carmaker which is PSA (Peugeot, Citroen) at 16%.

As such, the group needed to significantly introduce large quantities of zero-emission vehicles into the market to bring down their average CO2 contribution which is said to be 96 g/km. Approximately one in three new VW Golfs sold in Europe last year was a hybrid!

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Volvo meanwhile was listed as the second-most ‘polluting’ in 2019 but thanks to the introduction of zero-emission models such as Polestar 2, XC40 Pure Electric and adding Ford into its registration pool, the company, now listed as Geely Group, is seen to be doing well, even ahead of Volkswagen in a CO2-emission analysis by Jato Dynamics.

As for the poor remark on Toyota, the company only has a regional market share of 7% and a high percentage of their sales consist of hybrid models. Pooling together with Mazda, their average CO2 contribution has traditionally been the lowest, and as such, does not seem to appear to be ‘working hard to electrify Europe’ in the eyes of T&E.

Nonetheless, the automotive giant has begun to introduce higher electrification into its fleet, such as the 302 hp/1-liter per 100 km Toyota RAV4 PHEV with the upcoming Lexus NX that also uses similar plug-in hybrid technology as well as the fully electric Lexus UX 300e.

Toyota just last week also voiced their opinion that a product line-up of just electric vehicles is not possible even in 2040, as their brand has a very wide presence across the globe. The company will continue to offer various powertrain solutions that fit the legislations, infrastructure and ultimately, customer demand.

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In the coming weeks, the EU is expected to announce more ambitious CO2 targets; by 2030, the average CO2 emissions of new vehicles should be 50% below 2021 levels, versus the existing target of 37.5%. By then, Volvo is expected to be a fully-electric brand, while Volkswagen will have more than half its line-up as EVs.

In other separate announcements, Audi plans to be fully-electric by 2033 (except China) while Honda has placed 2040 as the target. Regionally, Thailand is setting 2035 as the year only EVs are sold, Singapore five years later and Indonesia by 2050. The ultimate goal, globally, is to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.