I hold on to hope that one day cars will be a significant contributor to the overall effort to clean the air – that they’ll be more a part of the solution than what is right now the case. That’s not expecting too much, right?
I will try to answer that question by posing another: Without significant improvement in vehicle-fuel-mileage ratings and associated tailpipe-emissions reduction (both purportedly in the offing) along with increased sales of ultra-low and no-emissions autos, is this even possible?
Just so you know what current U.S. auto purchasing trends are like, in the article “U.S. Market Continues to Ride on Large Trucks in May,” WardsAuto’s Haig Stoddard wrote: “The seasonally adjusted annual rate of 15.2 million units marked a sharp uptick from April’s 14.9 million, the first time since October the SAAR dipped below 15 million. May’s SAAR also was well above year-ago’s 13.9 million and brought the year-to-date total to 15.2 million, up from like-2012’s 14.1 million.
“Volume for the month reached 1.44 million [light vehicles], equal to a daily selling rate of 55,260, 8.0% above year-ago’s 51,158 – 26 selling days both periods. Year-to-date deliveries are 7.1% above like-2012.
“Sales of all large trucks, including luxury versions, increased 20.3% in May. Large SUVS and pickups led the way with gains of 23.9% and 23.6%, respectively.”
Being the curious type, I naturally want to know what sales trends are for hybrids and electrics. Here again, I consulted the same source.
Christie Schweinsberg in: “Toyota Sees Best Month in Nearly Four Years,” wrote: “Jeff Bracken, Lexus group vice president, says the ES 300h hybrid model has been a key driver of growth for that nameplate, with 25% of total ES sales in May the hybrid.”
Schweinsberg also pointed out regarding Camry and Prius hybrid models, “[I]ncreased demand for the Avalon large sedan and Prius liftback, V and C models offset declines in the Camry lineup.
“The hybrid Camry slipped 3.1%, while sales of the conventionally powered Camry fell 0.6% from like-2012.”
Stoddard, meanwhile, mentioned that for the month of May the Leaf electric vehicle from Nissan also “recorded big gains.”
This is all interesting data. But without huge improvement in the area of conventional car model fuel efficiency, plus significantly increased sales volumes of hybrids and EVs and such, not to mention other air-pollution-fighting strategies like promulgation in the use of biofuels and the like, well, you get the picture.
Without these and other efforts to reduce or eliminate emissions from motor vehicle tailpipes, autos as a major pollution fighter – plain and simple – there is not a lot of promise there.
On the plus side, major changes are on the way, purportedly, beginning as early as 2017.
Having said that, marked improvement in vehicle fuel economy ratings coupled with corresponding tailpipe emissions reduction cannot come soon enough as far as I’m concerned.
Still, I trust cars will be a big part of the air-pollution-fighting solution – someday.
– Alan Kandel