Signaling the endgame for fossil fueled vehicles

As part of the ZEV Challenge, State and regional governments, cities and businesses representing millions of dollars in purchasing power have united to accelerate the global manufacture of Zero Emission Vehicles. The ZEV Challenge asks leaders in automotive industry to signal an endgame for fossil-fuel vehicles, and drive forward progress towards a clean future.

The ZEV Challenge is being supported by: The State of California, New York City, EDF Energy, LeasePlan and Unilever. In addition, the cities of Paris, London, Milan, Copenhagen, Pittsburgh, Mexico City, and Medellín, as well as the regions of Australian Capital Territory and Navarra.  

These zero emissions leaders are urging the global auto industry to commit to accelerating the manufacture of electric vehicles and step up production to satisfy the growing demand. This marks the first time some of the world’s largest states, regions, cities and businesses are uniting to show the global auto industry the full scale of demand that already exists for electric vehicles. It brings together existing, world leading programs, which up to now have been focused on separate sectors, to amplify their collective purchasing power and influence on the market.

States and regions – are called upon to join a new Under2 Coalition ZEV initiative, run in close cooperation with the ZEV Alliance, focused on procurement, infrastructure and policy.

Cities – some of the largest cities in the world are today also backing this call.

This announcement is designed to accelerate trends already underway in several nations, regions, states and cities. Several countries like France and the UK have already announced end dates for the sale of vehicles powered by gasoline and diesel-fuelled engines. Others like California have committed to putting 5 million zero-emission vehicles on their roads and highways by 2030.

 Auto sector – Automakers are being asked to signal their willingness to work towards an endgame for combustion engine vehicles, and in the meantime commit to a ZEV percentage of sales by 2025.

Businesses – more multinational businesses are being challenged to join EV100, the lead business commitment to fleet electrification by 2030 and charging infrastructure, run by The Climate Group.

“Zero emission vehicles are the way to go,” said California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. “They’re good for people’s health, they’re good for the air and they’re good for helping to stop the catastrophic increase in global warming.”

Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City said, “Living in a coastal city, New Yorkers know the existential threat posed by climate change. That is why we are leading the fight with our pledge to implement the goals of the Paris climate agreement and rolling out critical infrastructure to speed our conversion to electric vehicles. We are proud to join cities around the world as we take action on this global problem.”

“The citizens of Paris and cities around the world demand clean air to breathe,” said Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris & Chair of C40. “As mayors of the world’s great cities we are transforming the way that our citizens move around the city – prioritising walking, cycling, and clean public transport through initiatives like C40’s Green & Healthy Streets Declaration. I urge car manufacturers to seize this opportunity and help us shape a sustainable future, by accelerating the shift to electric vehicles.”

Mary D. Nichols, Chair, California Air Resources Board, said “The auto industry knows this is a global trend and many are racing to be part of it. Companies that fail to adapt do so at their peril. We call on all manufacturers to join us in this historic transformation, to be leaders in the race that will leave old-style combustion-driven inefficient, pollution-spewing engines in the dust. That’s our challenge. California needs millions of zero emission vehicles on our streets and highways to meet our clean air and climate goals. We are committed to comprehensive incentives, policies and helping grow a global movement of 100’s of states, cities and a wide range of companies who share our ambition.”

EDF Energy President Jean-Bernard Levy said “The ZEV Challenge resonates with our belief in the electrification of the economy, and when beliefs are aligned with actions, people are happy to deliver. People get the sense of urgency and this helps us align our strategy with concrete goals.”

Tex Gunning, CEO LeasePlan: “Although we’re seeing the appetite for EVs rise every day, the vehicles, infrastructure or policies to meet this demand aren’t there yet. We’re therefore delighted to join the Global ZEV Challenge and work with the industry to make zero emission mobility a reality. Starting electric can be one of the easiest ways to tackle climate change, but only if everyone rises to the ZEV Challenge.”

Magnus Hall, President and CEO at Vattenfall, said: “Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time and electric transport will be essential to reach climate goals and to reduce air pollution and noise in cities. This is why we joined the EV100. We aim to electrify our whole car fleet by 2022 and, together with partners, build the largest E-mobility charging network in North Western Europe.”

Matt Gorman, Director of Sustainability at Heathrow Airport, said: “Heathrow is proud to support this challenge to accelerate uptake of electric vehicles globally. We are on track to deliver on our promise to make all of Heathrow’s cars and small vans electric or plug-in hybrid by 2020. However, we are committed to go further yet and we would like to see other large organisations make similar commitments.”

Olaf Schulze, Director Energy Management, METRO AG said: “METRO joined EV100 because we firmly believe that to drive climate action we need to join forces. For that reason, we are fully behind this push to bring more electric vehicles on the road. In our own operations, we provide EV-charging for our more than 21 million wholesale customers in 35 countries who visit our stores day by day. Together with fellow companies and public bodies, we can create real change.”

Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, and C40 Vice-Chair, Frank Jensen – “The problem of petrol- and diesel vehicles polluting our streets needs to be fixed if we want to improve air quality. I therefore strongly urge the car manufacturers to phase out the production of petrol- and diesel cars. These companies should focus on more sustainable alternatives such as electrical vehicles: Our citizens have a right to clean air.”

Mayor of Los Angeles, and C40 Vice-Chair, Eric Garcetti said “The decisions we make today have real consequences tomorrow — and when it comes to climate change, action isn’t a choice, but a necessity. Clean air is a basic human right, and the Zero Emission Vehicle Challenge will help accelerate the innovation taking place in cities by pioneering sustainable transportation solutions.”

Mayor of Pittsburgh William Peduto said, “Governments have the purchasing power to force manufacturers to start meeting our demands and provide off-the-shelf electric vehicle technologies. The message is: If you make them, we’ll buy them. This need is especially true for heavy duty vehicles like refuse trucks, snow plows and heavy duty equipment, which are some of our largest polluters.”

“We need to accelerate the transition to zero emission vehicles in Latin America” said José Ramón Amieva, Mayor of Mexico City “Car manufacturers have a key role in offering clean alternatives at much more competitive and affordable prices in order to accelerate the technological shift in the use of fossil fuels and improve air quality in cities. As C40 Mayors, we have committed to deliver concrete actions on zero emissions mobility, and Mexico City is already working on the first Electric Bus corridor in the country, and one of the firsts in the region”.

Shane Rattenbury, Australian Capital Territory Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability – Sub-national governments like the Australian Capital Territory can make a big difference and demonstrate leadership by choosing to procure zero emissions vehicles. The ACT Government has committed to shifting to a zero emissions passenger vehicle fleet from 2019-20. We are also working with other Australian local and state governments to make this shift. Our electricity supply will also be 100% renewable from 2020, meaning electric vehicles in the ACT will be running on zero emissions electricity—a great win for our community and the climate.

Mayor of Milan, and C40 Vice-Chair, Giuseppe Sala said, “Transition to clean transport is key for the health of our citizens. The city of Milan is committed to procuring zero-emission buses and is carrying out a progressive ban on diesel cars.  It will be a delicate transition, but we think it is time for it. We call for the private sector, businesses and manufacturers to support us in this process”

Manu Ayerdi, Vice-president for Economic Development in Navarra said “States and regions can play a major role in shaping the electric vehicle market. In Navarra, we achieved an 82% surge in EVs year on year, with progressive policies such as a 30% tax deduction for individuals and companies purchasing EVs. We urge other states and regions to support the ZEV Challenge to help move the market and for the automotive industry to be ready to meet the demand.”

Mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi said, “Car manufacturers have a great opportunity to improve the quality of the air we breathe and contribute to countering climate change. They can speed up the transition to zero-emission vehicles for both public and private transport. In order to give strength and credibility to this path, it is of paramount importance to set a date for stopping the production of petrol or diesel cars. We are trying to design cities that are people- and children-friendly. A place where you can breathe clean air and enjoy walking or cycling. We are making a great effort to establish roadmaps and to set deadlines. We urge car manufacturers to go down this road together.”

Mayor of Medellín, Federico Gutierrez Zuluaga said “Our purpose is to become the capital of electric mobility in Latin America to positively impact the welfare of our people. We promote sustainable means of transport, we are replacing and buying electrical buses for our BRT system – Metroplús and we that have decided that 100% of the new vehicles will also be electrical.  In addition, we are committed to promoting the renewal of the diesel or gasoline public transport fleet to 100% electrical vehicles. We are implementing public policies towards the climate change and sustainability, always considering our citizens.”

Helen Clarkson, CEO, The Climate Group, said at an event in New York against the backdrop of a Generation 2 electric Formula-E racing car. “It is time to talk about the endgame for the combustion engine and speed up the move from vehicles whose emissions pose health risks and a growing contribution to climate change. We want automotive companies to do more to help us get there.We are calling on more global cities, states and businesses with the biggest fleets of cars and trucks to join this effort to put tens of millions of zero-emission vehicles on the roads and highways of every nation.”

Alejandro Agag, CEO, Formula E, said “The ABB FIA Formula E Championship is delighted to support this most important initiative to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles around the world in the hope to eventually see electric mobility as a global reality. Formula E was created to fight against inner-city pollution by offering electric vehicles as a viable solution and by breaking down the barriers to the electric vehicle market – technology, perception and infrastructure.”

Anand Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra Group, said: “As co-hosts of the Global Climate Action Summit in September we support the ZEV Challenge in line with our commitment to Science Based Targets for business to tackle climate change. More businesses and governments committing to buying electric vehicles help auto companies like us to invest and bring zero emission vehicles to market.”


Emily Atkin of the New Republic writes that The modern automobile must die. It is customary in the industry that the people who write the headlines do not write the stories, but this one is troubling because there is somewhat of a disconnect between the two. Atkins makes a very interesting argument, looking at the example of Germany; here is a country with strict commitment to reducing emissions, but she says that they are likely to miss their targets because everyone loves their cars.

Changing the way we power our homes and businesses is certainly important. But as Germany’s shortfall shows, the only way to achieve these necessary, aggressive emissions reductions to combat global warming is to overhaul the gas-powered automobile and the culture that surrounds it. The only question left is how to do it.

As the economy in Germany grows, people are buying more, bigger cars. Yet according to one consultant Atkin quotes, “For Germany to meet emissions targets, “half of the people who now use their cars alone would have to switch to bicycles, public transport, or ride-sharing.”

According to a recent study, even in Poland, with the dirtiest power in Europe, “ a battery-powered vehicle in Poland, well-to-wheel, emits 25% less carbon dioxide over its lifetime than a diesel car.” And diesels were promoted because they produce less CO2 than gas. The tired argument that electric cars are dirtier than gas is used by those who want to stop progress and kill decarbonization, not promote it.

last year, “the transportation industry’s emissions increased by 2.3 percent, “as car ownership expanded and the booming economy meant more heavy vehicles were on the road.” But there is a counter-trend also at work; according to The Local, young people are not buying cars like they used to.

berlin transitWho needs a car when you have transit and bike infrastructure like this/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 1.0

“For the young generation, it is no longer so important to have their first Golf or their first Peugeot. They prefer to spend money on experiences,” said Gero Graf, director of the German operations of Drivy, a French startup that allows car-owners to rent out their vehicle to other people when they are not using it themselves. Germany, the cradle of the automobile industry, is also the world leader in car sharing. In Berlin, 45

The modern automobile must die. Kill it in cities. Decarbonize it everywhere else. –Lloyd Alter