As the resident sourpuss, I make it my business to complain about every industrial hypocrisy that crosses my path and the automotive sector has kept me so busy that there’s hardly any time left to address my own failings. Though I do have to confess that I sometimes feel guilty about how frequently I’m compelled to gripe about electric vehicles. Provided that you’re willing to work with their charging limitations and less-than-impressive ranges, EVs have a lot to offer even in their current state. But the way they’ve been marketed has been so consistently disingenuous that I often end my days on the cusp of a frustration-induced aneurysm.
The winds appear to be changing, however.
After years of watching the industry bang its head against the wall, the media seems prepared to shift its position. Accelerated adoption of pure electrics doesn’t seem to be happening and too many EV startups have ended up being little more than an opportunity for investors to throw away money. Increasingly fewer people ask me about battery-powered cars in a way that suggests true enthusiasm. Excitement has given way to dubiousness as more people have begun to ponder if electrics are really all they’re cracked up to be.
Honda Motor Co. will be accompanying Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in pooling its emissions with electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla in an attempt to adhere to CO2 limits mandated by the European Union. For 2020, the average emissions of all vehicles sold within the region must not exceed 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer. Companies failing to comply will be forced to pay the government sizable fines as it readies even higher targets for next year.
Over half of automakers planning to move product inside Europe next year are already assumed to fail however, resulting in a series of rushed hybrid/EV products, the obliteration of the diesel-powered passenger vehicles, and companies desperate to team up with the manufacturers that came in under the regulatory limits.
Ford is joining the lengthening list of automakers that cannot adhere to European emissions mandates this year and is pursuing the popular option of simply buying carbon credits from rivals who managed to sell more than a few electrified vehicles.
Under the EU rules, manufacturers can “earn” carbon credits by selling more EVs. But legacy automakers were hamstrung all year by the pandemic and Ford is on the hook for a recall of its Kuga (Escape) PHEV. The Blue Oval recalled almost 21,000 examples of the plug-in hybrid in August, asking owners not to drive the crossover in its electric-only mode and to avoid charging the battery. While alarming in its own right, Ford said the recall effectively makes it impossible for it to meet 2020 EU emission quotas. It is now seeking partners for an “open emissions pool” and is hardly the only manufacturer doing this.