Contrary to Shakespeare’s existential question, to buy or not to buy an internal combustion car is a very simple question with an even simpler answer. No!
In the comments section of this and other websites I see often the discussion about what to do when there is no good fully battery-electric vehicle (BEV) available for an acceptable price. Many have lengthy arguments justifying their opinion on what carmakers have to do or stop doing to provide the missing BEV. But it is really simple and not about BEVs. The choice comes down to buy or not to buy an ICE vehicle.
Well informed buyers will not buy a new ICE vehicle, period.
But… but… but… I hear the many objections. Why a new vehicle is absolute necessary, that I am exaggerating, that I am in panic mode, that I am a nitwit, etc..
Call me whatever you like, but do the math yourself. We need to reach net zero at 2050, preferably sooner and without burning the carbon budget for a 1.5°C global temperature rise. With current policies it will be difficult to stay within the 2°C budget, but that is another discussion.The year 2050 is the date, and road transport is the low hanging fruit of the decarbonization. We can not afford to fail here. If we fail here, we fail everywhere.
The math is not difficult. A new car has an average lifespan of 23 years in Europe, and decades longer in Cuba. The US is somewhere in between.
There are many younger cars that are a total loss. Those that die young make the life expectancy of those that reach middle age a lot longer than the average does suggest. Europe and the US export many used cars. They get a longer life elsewhere. The real lifespan of a car is much longer than the average in Europe and the US. It is probably closer to 30 years.
To get to zero emissions in 2050, the last fossil fuel vehicle should be sold at least as many years as its expected lifespan before that date. Preferably a few years sooner — oops, that would have been in the previous decade. Many ICE cars sold this year will still be going strong in 2050. Perhaps not in the country where they were sold, but somewhere around the world.
Not just the cars in Europe or the US or China, South Korea and Japan, but all the cars in the world must be zero emissions by 2050. That is why we should not add any more cars with a tailpipe to the world fleet. There are edge cases where a PHEV is an acceptable alternative, but those are few and ignored in this discussion.
For internal combustion cars produced today and in the next year, the future is a total loss or forced early retirement after fast depreciation. Buying new ICE vehicle now makes you responsible for creating a problem in the future.
That makes this a very simple situation. A responsible, well-informed person will not buy a new ICE vehicle. When a capable fully electric car is not available or not affordable, buy a used ICE and help it get to the recycler (if you can afford it) as soon as you can switch to fully electric.
I realize this is a harsh question and answer. The public is not ready to stop buying new tailpipe-equipped vehicles. The industry is not ready to make all the BEVs we need. The politicians are not ready to tell it is today (yesterday, to be completely honest) that we must stop buying what we have been buying for over a century. The CEOs of Stellantis, Renault, VW Group, BMW, and probably some other colleagues have asked the politicians to slow down. They think 2035 for Europe and a decade or more later for the rest of the world is wrong. Too big a disturbance of the industry and economy. Too many workers losing their job.
They are wrong, the time is now.
Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
Former Tesla Battery Expert Leading Lyten Into New Lithium-Sulfur Battery Era — Podcast:
I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don't like paywalls, and so we've decided to ditch ours. Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It's a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So ...