New study shows 1 in 6 new cars must be electric to meet emissions standards

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Cchana/Flickr
If humanity wants to not be burned to death by the ravages of global warming, then countries need to ramp up electric car manufacturing significantly.

According to a new study from the World Energy Council, one in six new cars sold must be electric in 2020 to meet emissions targets.

Multiple countries have emissions targets, but have yet to require manufacturers produce electric vehicles. These emissions targets will be impossible to meet on efficient internal-combustion engines alone, even with advancements in technology. A certain portion of a manufacturers’ production will need to be electric.

The study looks at the emissions targets set by the United States, Europe, and China. While accounting for improvements in fuel efficiency, it still concludes that 16 percent of cars will need to be electric. Each country has its own “EV gap” that needs to be filled with electric cars. The study estimates that 900,000 cars sold in the United States must be electric in 2020. That’s about 11 percent. China fares far worse; it needs to somehow sell 5.3 million new electric cars in 2020 — that’s 22 percent of estimated sales. Europe is in the middle at 1.4 million cars, or 10 percent.

The study also concludes that the biggest barriers to electric car adoption is still range anxiety. It’s the feeling you get when you know your phone is running out of power, but need GPS functionality to get home. You’ll lower screen brightness and put it on power-saver mode. That, too, applies to electric cars. When users see their miles grow low, many will turn off the AC and other nonessential features to keep their vehicles going.

The one bit of good news is that with the increased electric car production, it actually won’t strain electric infrastructures all that much. The demand of new electric cars in 2020 will only be 0.5 percent more than the 2014 electricity demand.

In the United States and Europe, nearly all major companies are investing in EV technology. It will be interesting to see what China will do to keep pace.

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