automakers have now announced plans for expanded HEV models over the
next few years.
HEV sales were still very small in 2003. However, the initial models
offered provide a basis of comparison regarding the fuel savings and
emissions reductions that might be seen through greater use of the
technology. Since all of the Big Six automakers have seen their fleet average
emissions rates increase due to rising light truck sales fractions, it
is instructive to compare the likely impact of HEVs in lowering CO
emissions rates to the increase in emissions already caused by the car-to-
truck shift.
For example, to compensate for its 2.9 percent increase in fleet-average
emissions rate over the period from 1990 through 2003, Toyota would
have to sell 150,000HEVs that achieve the same average fuel savings as the
Prius and Lexus RX400h, or 8 percent of its total sales at 2003 volumes.
This is quite likely given Toyota’s announced plans, and it may become the
first company to offset its truck-driven carbon burden increase by using
HEVs. This achievement, however, would only trim its fleet average CO
emissions rate to what it was in 1990.
To take another example, Honda had a 5.7 percent increase in its fleet-
average CO
emissions rate from 1990 through 2003. To compensate for that
impact, Honda would have to sell over 300,000HEVs, or 22 percent of its
2003 sales, with the same average fuel savings as the Civic and Accord
Hybrids. Similarly, Ford would have to sell over 650,000HEVs, or 20 percent
of its 2003 sales, with the same average fuel savings as the Escape Hybrid
in order to compensate for the 7.7 percent increase in its fleet-average CO
emissions rate, due mainly to its shift to trucks compounded by its use of
FFV credits.
Reducing Automotive Carbon Burdens
Many actors are involved in the decisions that determine what kind of cars
are built and sold, how much they are driven, and how they are fueled. Thus,
cutting the carbon burdens of cars is a shared responsibility, though the auto
industry is a dominant player.
The past several years have seen shifts in automakers’ public positions
on global warming. Not long ago, many automakers, particularly the Big
Three, denied that a problem existed and carried out campaigns to under-
mine U.S. support for climate protection actions. Now, all firms profess a
desire to help solve a very real problem. In 1998, major automakers made
voluntary agreements with the European Union to cut their fleet-average
emissions rates. A recent report, Mobility 2030, endorsed by the Big
Six companies in the U.S. market plus Renault and Volkswagen, recom-
mended a goal of limiting GHG emissions to sustainable levels (World Busi-
ness Council for Sustainable Development, 2004). Automakers have started
reporting emissions from their fleets and factory operations and they now
Carbon Burdens from New Car Sales in the United States 85

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