Written by Kai Lu
The transition to electric cars (EVs) is gaining momentum globally as technology improves and governments implement policies to promote their adoption. Meanwhile, the big auto manufacturers are trying everything they can to slow down this transition. This article introduces some common tactics these companies employ to fight against the shift to electric vehicles.
Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) manufacturers refer to companies that profit from producing engines for gas cars. These companies dislike the shift toward EVs since it reduces demand for their engines. Some of the biggest players in the ICE market include Volvo AB, Volkswagen AG, Toyota Motor Corporation, etc (Verified Market Research, 2022).
Lobbying against government policies that support the adoption of EVs is a common strategy for ICE producers. These companies have significant financial resources and political influence, which they use to lobby against policies such as EV tax credits, charging infrastructure development, and anything else that makes EVs easier to buy for consumers (Rouhandeh, 2021). They also lobby for policies that favor gas cars, such as subsidies for gas-powered vehicles and fuel efficiency standards that favor internal combustion engines. Last year, a top Toyota executive, Chris Reynolds, tried to advocate against the Biden administration’s plans to spend billions of dollars to incentivize the shift to EVs by secretly meeting with congressional leaders and attempting to persuade them that hybrids, like Toyota Prius, should also be on the list (Tabuchi, 2021).
Another tactic used by gas car companies is spreading misinformation about EVs. These companies often use misleading advertising and public relations campaigns to create the perception that EVs are not as reliable, safe, or cost-effective as gas cars (Dans, 2018). Misinformation includes emphasizing that electricity production is also reliant on fossil fuels which makes electric cars just as bad for the environment; this has been disproven, and driving EVs will lead to a huge reduction in air pollution (Dans, 2018). They also often spread misinformation understating the role of fossil fuels in global warming (Rouhandeh, 2021). These tactics are designed to create uncertainty and confusion among consumers, making them less likely to consider purchasing an EV.
ICE manufacturers are also investing in alternative technologies such as hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and claiming that it is a more viable alternative to EVs. However, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are not as environmentally friendly as EVs, as the production and transportation of hydrogen fuel are still quite inefficient and have significant environmental impacts (Fletcher, 2022). While hydrogen fuel cell vehicles may have some advantages over EVs in terms of driving ranges and refueling times, they are currently less widely available or cost-effective than EVs (Fletcher, 2022).
Some gas car companies are also investing in carbon capture, and storage (CCS) technologies, which they claim are more efficient at reducing emissions from gas cars. However, CCS technologies are still in the early stages of development and still need to be proven to be cost-effective or practical at the scale needed (Salt, 2022). Additionally, CCS technology can’t eliminate emissions completely and, at its current state, may not be a long-term solution to the problem of climate change and air pollution.
Finally, ICE manufacturers are also using their financial resources to acquire or invest in EV companies, with the intention of slowing down their growth and development. This allows them to gain control over the EV market and limit the competition from smaller EV companies. Additionally, they also use their existing market power to limit the availability of EVs, for example, by not investing in EV charging infrastructure or not offering EVs in certain markets.
In conclusion, the auto industry has been using various strategies that impact the transition to electric vehicles (EVs). These strategies include lobbying against government policies that support the adoption of EVs, investing in alternative technologies, acquiring or investing in EV companies, and investing in carbon capture and storage technologies. It is important for governments and consumers to be aware of these strategies as they consider the transition to EVs. Additionally, the industry can benefit from focusing on a smooth transition and investing in the development of clean energy vehicles and infrastructure that will support the transition to EVs.
Dans, Enrique. “The Misinformation around Electric Vehicles.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 16 Dec. 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/enriquedans/2018/07/03/electric-vehicles-and-disinformation/?sh=1317a97231e5.
Fletcher, Charlie. “Hydrogen vs. Electric Cars: Comparing Innovative Sustainability.” Earth.Org, Earth.Org, 16 Aug. 2022, https://earth.org/hydrogen-vs-electric-cars/.
Hawkins, Andrew J. “Toyota Is Quietly Pushing Congress to Slow the Shift to Electric Vehicles.” The Verge, The Verge, 26 July 2021, https://www.theverge.com/2021/7/26/22594235/toyota-lobbying-dc-ev-congress-biden-donation.
Rouhandeh, Alex J. “Big Oil Stays Quiet on Stopping Anti-Electric Vehicle Lobbyist Efforts.” Newsweek, Newsweek, 28 Oct. 2021, https://www.newsweek.com/when-asked-stop-lobbyist-efforts-against-electric-vehicles-big-oil-stays-silent-1643644.
Salt, Michael. “Carbon Capture Landscape 2022 – Still Too Early to Confidently Fulfil Promises.” IEEFA, 7 July 2022, https://ieefa.org/resources/carbon-capture-landscape-2022-still-too-early-confidently-fulfil-promises.
Tabuchi, Hiroko. “Toyota Led on Clean Cars. Now Critics Say It Works to Delay Them.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 25 July 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/25/climate/toyota-electric-hydrogen.html?action=click&module=Top+Stories&pgtype=Homepage. Verified Market Research. “Top 5 Car Engine Manufacturers.” Verified Market Research, 2 Mar. 2022, https://www.verifiedmarketresearch.com/blog/top-car-engine-manufacturers/.