Toyota study shows electric vehicles may be unnecessary to lower CO2 emissions
Virtually alone among major auto manufacturers, Toyota has been a skeptic about the conversion of vehicle fleets to battery-powered electric vehicles. For people incapable of thinking two or three steps ahead, E.V.s are "zero emission" and therefore "save the planet" from CO2 (presumed to control the Earth's temperature despite no statistical correlation). But this leaves out the environmental and CO2 cost of generating and transmitting electricity (mostly by burning coal in the U.S. and many other countries), manufacturing (and recycling) the enormous batteries, and the energy and wear-and-tear cost of the much heavier cars that result. Energy losses due to resistance in power lines generate heat and costs a substantial fraction of the energy input before the consumer uses the output.
Nonetheless, rival manufacturers such as Ford and GM have leapt into the transition and are investing bullions and enduring billions in losses to convert their products to E.V.s.
Yesterday, Toyota released a study demonstrating that use of the "eco mode" on some of its gasoline-powered vehicles saves CO2 emissions and gasoline consumption far more than people realize and may rival any potential savings from conversion to E.V.s. Karl Furlong of Car Buzz writes:
Toyota has conducted a study that demonstrates the significant reduction in tailpipe CO2 emissions that can be achieved if more customers use their vehicles' Eco or EV driving modes. The latter mode applies to plug-in hybrids like the RAV4 Prime, which have large enough batteries to sustain brief periods of driving on only electric power.
While such driving modes are usually associated with sluggish throttle response, customers inclined to ignore these more efficient driving modes could be encouraged to use them more often if they knew the benefits.
That's what Toyota aims to achieve with this study, which involved Toyota employees and family members covering over 400,000 miles in Eco or EV mode. Some Lexus vehicles were also used as part of the test, and by comparing data from these cars running in their most efficient modes with vehicles that weren't, Toyota was able to come up with some telling insights.
Collectively, the emission reductions achieved by the study's participants represented $18,304 in fuel cost savings when matched against the national average. 5,091 gallons of gasoline were saved, and Toyota said the reductions in CO2 were the equivalent of 748 trees sequestering carbon for 10 years. Compared to the baseline, 45,235,623 g of CO2 greenhouse gases were saved.
Using Eco mode in a non-hybrid model sees the most significant benefits, with a reduction in tailpipe CO2 of 26%. In a hybrid model, the reduction is 4% since the vehicle already operates more efficiently in general driving.
Remapped throttle inputs in Eco mode and more efficient operation of the HVAC system are the main changes that bring about these reduced emissions.
I drive a Toyota-manufactured car with Eco mode and use it most of the time, getting a lot better mileage than my previous same-sized car got. It doesn't affect performance that much, but I am not a peel-out sort of guy at stop lights, anyway. Ben Stratton of Wilde Toyota (a dealer) explains Eco mode:
When you turn the eco mode on, the system regulates air conditioning, heated seats, and other instruments that use power in your vehicle. This alleviates pressure from the engine. And when your engine isn't working as hard to drive and power all of those instruments, it contributes to better fuel efficiency.
In comparison to other driving modes, the eco mode makes driving more economical. That means that you're saving money on fuel costs. But you're also contributing to fewer emissions and, ultimately, reducing your ecological footprint.
President Akio Toyoda of Toyota, a direct descendent of the firm's founder, has long been skeptical of E.Vs. Two and a half years ago, he warned:
Toyota Motor Corp.'s leader criticized what he described as excessive hype over electric vehicles, saying advocates failed to consider the carbon emitted by generating electricity and the costs of an EV transition.
Toyota President Akio Toyoda said Japan would run out of electricity in the summer if all cars were running on electric power. The infrastructure needed to support a fleet consisting entirely of EVs would cost Japan between ¥14 trillion and ¥37 trillion, the equivalent of $135 billion to $358 billion, he said.
"When politicians are out there saying, 'Let's get rid of all cars using gasoline,' do they understand this?" Mr. Toyoda said Thursday at a year-end news conference in his capacity as chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association. (snip)
In a country such as Japan that gets most of its electricity from burning coal and natural gas, EVs don't help the environment, Mr. Toyoda said. "The more EVs we build, the worse carbon dioxide gets," he said.
He said he feared government regulations would make cars a "flower on a high summit" — out of reach for the average person.
That last item, pricing cars out of reach for average families, may be a feature, not a bug, in the eyes of WEF-style elitists intent on reducing the standard of living of advanced countries.
President Toyoda's views may be the reason why Toyota offers only one fully electric vehicle for sale in the U.S., and is ranked last by Greenpeace in decarbonization. There is no indication if Greenpeace is aware of the benefits of the Eco drive, or if it calculates the emissions generated by manufacturing E.V.s and generating the electricity that powers them.
As far as I am concerned, Toyota has the right idea, and the alleged benefits of E.V.s are vastly overstated, while the costs are understated. In my book, it is a reason to prefer Toyota vehicles.
Full disclosure: Toyota was a significant client of mine when I was a consultant. But I have had no financial relationship with them, other than as customer, for well over a decade.