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Switching to less polluting cars needs to happen faster, say experts

Motors | Published:

A group of leading engineers say older petrol and diesel cars need to be removed from the road quickly to achieve air quality targets

Tackling air pollution quickly will require a faster take-up of electrified models, according to a group of automotive engineers.

However, they warned that there are currently a number of constraints holding battery-electric vehicles back from the market, with no clear idea of when these constraints will be removed.

Autocar reports that Paul Mascarenas, a board director of FISITA, which represents 200,000 automotive engineers, said: “Ultimately the speed at which we can changeover the fleet is the constraint on cleaning up air and I think we need a forcing function for us as an industry to work around.

Air pollution study
(PA)

“There will be various constraints, including new car supply and supply chain, but it is not clear when or how those constraints will be taken off.

“It is undetermined the time to change over the fleet, to get to one or 1.5 billion alternative fuel vehicles in service globally by 2040.”

Various European countries, including the UK, have targeted banning sales of non-electrified models by 2040. Exactly what qualifies as electrified is still to be decided, but it is believed vehicles will have to be capable of covering 60 zero-emission miles.

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The switch to less-polluting vehicles is a complex issue, with industry leaders this week warning that pushing for all-electric vehicles too soon could actually be detrimental to the environment.

Neville Jackson, chief technology and innovation officer at Ricardo, which develops technology for both combustion engines and electrified powertrains, told attendees of the Driving the Future event in London: “We are too focused on the only way ahead being electric – and that is a message we have to get across to legislators.

“If you look at the lifecycle analysis of vehicles, which is set to be part of European Commission regulations from 2026, then the analysis of cradle to grave impact is clear: the internal combustion engine still delivers by far the lowest environmental impact.”

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