What Environmental Advancements Have Traditional Automakers Made In The Last 40 Years?

Many people look at the old automakers like GM, Ford, Mercedes, Chrysler and Honda as useless and non-responsive.  However the truth is quite a bit different.  Here are some quick facts you are not likely aware of.

Since 1980, traditional automakers have:

1- Decreased Tailpipe Emissions by 70%tailpipe emissions 1980-2020
2 – Increased Fuel Economy by 70%

real world fuel economy light duty passenger cars and trucks 1980 - 2020

And while they were at it, they invented passive restraints (like airbags) and changed hood designs to reduce pedestrian deaths.  All of this has lead to a reduction in traffic fatalities by 66% despite a 40% increase in total kilometers driven.

automotive fatalities in the united states 1980-2020

They also designed, manufactured and sold the first mass market electric vehicles.

Will The EV Future Will Be Tesla’s?

Tesla is building five new impressive plants right now and that is totaling about USD $12 Billion. Compare that to what traditional auto makers are doing today:

  • Over the next few years Ford will spend $22 Billion including $11 Billion in a single plant to make the F150 Lightning pickup truck and two battery factories.  “Blue Oval City” factory will be the biggest in the world at six square miles in size

Even EV laggard Honda has announced it will start producing real electric vehicles.  The new Honda Prologue is designed using GM’s amazing Ultium batteries and is expected to sell 100,000 units in 2024.

Who Will Be The King of Electric Vehicles in 2030?

Will there be big winners and losers with the big automakers today?  Definitely.  We would not be surprised to see a few of them go out of business by 2040.  GM, Ford, Toyota, Mercedes and all of the other notable ICE based auto builders have been through many industry changes in the last 100 years and if you think they are going down without a serious fight, you are in for some disappointment.

Will Tesla be the main player in the auto industry in 2030?  Possibly, but we would not bet on it.

We think that too many EV journalists and Tesla fan boys (BTW, the author owns and loves his 2021 Model 3) have completely written off traditional automakers as too useless, too slow and too late.  All of those inaccurate.  Traditional automakers have been both leaders in the automotive market and responsive to consumer demand.  They will make what consumers want and with EV’s at just 2% of total vehicle sales and Hybirds/PHEV’s at 1%, they still have lots of time to make our environmental dreams come true.




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