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DETROIT - The future may belong to electric cars, but for U.S. automakers, trucks will rule for years to come.
Automakers in North America plan to build more big pickups and sport utility vehicles than electric vehicles well into the late 2020s, chasing sales trends that run counter to the Biden administration's goal of boosting EVs to half the market by 2030, according to internal production forecasts viewed by Reuters.
The popularity of Detroit's big trucks is a challenge both to the industry and efforts by lawmakers and regulators to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other exhaust gas pollutants from combustion engines.
Unflagging demand among American consumers for full-size trucks and SUVs, among the industry's most profitable vehicles, will largely fund a combined $100 billion in investment commitments for new North American EV and battery plants by General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and Stellantis NV . Factories that build Detroit's trucks employ thousands of union workers - a key constituency for President Joe Biden.
At the same time, Detroit’s combustion-powered large pickup trucks and SUVs generate on average more than twice the CO2 over their lifetimes as the typical electric vehicle, according to a Reuters analysis of data https://tmsnrt.rs/2X6EL6O generated by Argonne National Laboratory’s GREET modeling tool - the same model used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
(GRAPHIC-Lifetime CO2 emissions by vehicle type Lifetime CO2 emissions by vehicle type: https://graphics.reuters.com/AUTOS-CLIMATECHANGE/TRUCKS/egvbkndeqpq/chart.png)
The three automakers in a joint statement https://media.gm.com/media/us/en/gm/home.detail.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2021/aug/0805-electric.html on Aug. 5 described as a "shared aspiration" Biden’s target of pushing EVs to 40-50% of production by 2030. That goal would mean boosting annual North American output of electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to 7 million vehicles or more.
The entire industry, however, is planning as of now to build just 2.6 million battery electric vehicles (BEV) and another 585,000 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) in 2028, according to AutoForecast Solutions (AFS), which compiles production estimates that are widely used across the industry.
(GRAPHIC-Auto plants will build more trucks than EVs for years: https://graphics.reuters.com/AUTOS-CLIMATECHANGE/TRUCKS/dwvkrgwnypm/chart.png)
If automakers stick to those plans, EVs would https://tmsnrt.rs/2XaeLaF account for just 15% of total North American production in 2028, with plug-in hybrids representing another 3.4%.
In that case, automakers would have to more than double EV and PHEV production within two years between 2028 and 2030 in order to hit Biden’s low-end target of 40%.