Effect of reduced new car sales on global warming

Over the past two years, new car production and sales have been significantly reduced. And they’ll likely to continue to go down this year. There’ve been a number of causes (and note that the pandemic caused chip shortage is not the only cause) but I don’t want to discuss the specifics here. I just want to know how this reduction will affect the climate crisis. Will it make it better or worse?

[Note: I’m not sure if this goes in FQ or GD. I’m sure a friendly moderator will be along to move it if I chose wrongly.]

Well, fewer cars being added to the roads is a good thing for global warming, but a slower replacement of ICE cars with electric cars is bad for global warming, so I say overall it’s a wash and will continue to get worse as time passes.

But then people are continuing to drive their older cars, since they can’t replace them with new.

Didn’t mention this in the OP and maybe should have. It’s mainly ICE cars that are having a slowdown. EV production increased in the last two years. That’s mostly due to Tesla; I’m not sure about the rest of the EV models.

Fair point. Replacing older models with newer ones usually, but not always, means better gas mileage and lower air pollution, but I read somewhere that SUVs are selling better now than they were 10 years ago so some people may be upgrading to less fuel-efficient cars, not more fuel-efficient

According to this, Tesla sold 301,998 cars last year in the US, a new record, but which only accounts for a 2.2% US market share. I’m not sure EVs really matter at this point.

Well, I was thinking of the entire world, not just the US. Tesla sold almost 1M cars last year and are expecting to sell about 1.5M this year. So with the decrease in ICEVs, the market share of EVs in the US should be going up.

At any rate, the US is behind the curve as far as EVs are concerned. There are more sold in both Europe and China than the US. The market share of EVs should also be going up in those two regions for the same reason.

But unfortunately, probably not as high as possible. One of the reasons for a decrease in car production this year is the Ukraine war. German car makers mostly get their wiring harnesses from Ukraine and that production is being severely hampered by the war. VW is going big on making EVs, and should dominate the European market. But their production will likely suffer over their entire lineup, EVs and ICEVs alike.

A bit of googling tells me global car sales were 66M in 2021 and EVs were about 6M. But that included plug-in hybrid EVs, which also have ICEs. The rise in EVs was mostly not due to Tesla, since they sold only 1M.

The trend is favorable, but it will still be decades before EVs make enough of a dent even to measure. Estimates are that the world contains 1.4B vehicles. Therefore probably 99% are ICEs, including virtually all the heavy trucks and buses and other gas guzzlers. Twenty years ago was twenty years too late to start.

Tesla makes the most EVs of all car manufacturers. The second most is a Chinese company, BYD, which made 600,000 last year.

PHEVs can be good for reducing emissions, but only if they’re plugged in every evening. Unfortunately, I understand a lot of users do not plug them in. I said “users” there, because a lot of them are driving company cars, and since the company pays the gas, they don’t care about plugging them in.

BYD also makes eBuses. They don’t export their cars to the US but they do export their buses. There seem to be quite a few cities and school districts going to all electric buses.

Buses, even gasoline-powered ones, aren’t gas-guzzlers, as long as they’re used as part of an efficient transit system. Sure, a single bus burns more fuel than a single car, but they’re not usually replacing a single car. They can be replacing dozens of cars.

The problem with buses comes in when, for whatever reason, a bus is running with only two passengers, or the like. Which can mean that the bus routes are lousy and don’t meet peoples’ needs, or they’re dirty and smelly so people don’t want to ride them, or just that the people like driving more. Some of those problems can be addressed by the transit operators; some can’t.

Tesla is already down about 50,000…& counting (2000+ / day) due to China’s strict Covid lockdowns; that 1.5 mil may not be attainable this year depending upon how long China’s lockdown lasts.

The global effect of all the pollution from all of the cars in the world are insignificant compared to the effect of global commerce and shipping. Making products in cheaper wage countries, and then shipping them half way around the world is not even considered by most people, nor is the idea of going back to more localized production of goods.

Each ship that you see carrying 90% of the worlds trade goods are belching out the burned products of some really crappy fossil fuels, from bunker crude to diesel. And at any time there are about 90,000 of them sailing around. Each one producing more climate change gasses than millions of cars, each day. They will never go electric, never be regulated, and each one is producing the pollution of thousands of cars, each day. It does not get talked about, reducing our reliance on global trade is not talked about.

The annual output of these ships is equal to over 205 million cars, or more cars than are even in the US, which had 135 million registered cars in 2006. Everyone in the US going electric cars will not make a dent in the climate change issue as long as we are willing to send ships half way around the world to get some cheap tennis shoes delivered from Asia to Nebraska.

Do as you see fit in your own little area if it makes you feel better, but global commerce and shipping is what really needs to be address.

Shipping Pollution | Oceana Europe

Health risks of shipping pollution have been ‘underestimated’ | Travel and transport | The Guardian

Sorry, but that statement is not supported by the cite you gave. Or for that matter, what you say:

But the number of light duty vehicles worldwide is well over a billion (Exapno_Mapcase gave an estimate of 1.4B upthread). So vehicles collectively do emit more CO2 than shipping.

Always with the negative waves. Try thinking some positive thoughts.

The shipping industry is aware of their emissions and at least some of them are trying to reduce them. They don’t really want to burn any more fuel than they have to (after all, that costs money) and there are some ways they can reduce that in the short term, even without switching to hydrogen or whatever.

I would think the reduction in Chinese EV production will be offset by the thousands of ships not plying the seas because of a huge bottleneck at the port of Shanghai not to mention factory shutdowns. Not unlike the massive decrease in pollution experienced in areas of the world when those places went on lockdown due to COVID. (Expect “Son of Supply Chain Issues” a sequel, in a few weeks…)

The short answer to OP is what was already said - people will continue driving their old cars. If you have to go from A to B then you will use what you have, and upgrade when you can. There may be a fall-off as some cars take themselves off the road (one way or another) and cannot be replaced, as new drivers cannot find a vehicle - but I would suggest for now the overwhelming difference in auto pollution is because many people are still working from home some or all of the time.

I drove a hybrid Camry - it was not plug-in. the major benefit was that it was a micromanaging miser with energy and recaptured it, so I could get highway mileage in stop-and-go city traffic (so less pollution, still). and unlike most mid-sized sedans, it has a 1600cc engine, about the same as my little 1995 Honda Civic hatchback. Plus a CVT which minimized fuel use for acceleration. Hybrids are better, but they’re not EV’s. However, plugin is a step in the right direction.