The World Needs More Electric Cars

PK Surendran, the senior at Postnoon sees global need for transition to more electric vehicles, especially in China and the USA, as well as his native India.

Electric vehicles, solar-propelled vehicles and other mode of non-pollutant vehicles alone can save the future.

Vehicles run on fossil fuel keep increasing and emerging economies like India, China are disregarding it’s environmental implications.


It seems frustrating. While on one hand scientific evidence of Earth’s protective veneer getting destroyed due to spiraling pollution is clear to the world and talks are being held among nations to reduce pollutants, automobile production is growing in leaps and bound. Today, we have one car for every seven people.

Production of passenger vehicles (cars and light vehicles) rose from 74.4 million in 2010 to 76.8 million in 2011 — and 2012 may bring an all-time high of 80 million or more vehicles, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute. Global sales of passenger vehicles increased from 75.4 million to 78.6 million over the same period, with a projected 81.8 million in 2012, writes report author and Worldwatch senior researcher Michael Renner.

The major driver of increased production and sales are the economies, especially China and India. “Rising sales translate into ever-expanding fleets. An estimated 691 million passenger cars were on the world’s roads in 2011. When both light-and heavy-duty trucks are included, the number rises to 979 million vehicles, which was 30 million more than just a year earlier.

By the end of 2012, the global fleet could top 1 billion vehicles,” says Michael.

Electric vehicle (EV) production remains at barely perceptible levels. Although several countries have issued targets for future EV fleets, it remains to be seen whether these goals can be met. China, for instance, wants to put 5 million plug-in hybrid-electric and fully electric vehicles on its roads by 2020 — which could account for more than 40 per cent of the global EV fleets that year.

An analysis by Deutsche Bank Climate Advisors, however, suggests that production of 1.1 million EVs and a fleet of 3.5 million in China is a more realistic projection.

“Automobiles are major contributors to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions,” said Renner.

“Greater fuel efficiency, along with the use of cleaner fuels, can help mitigate these impacts, although increases in the numbers of cars and the distances driven threaten to overwhelm fuel economy advances,” he added.


  • The passenger vehicle fleet in China grew at an annual average rate of 25 per cent during 2000-11, from fewer than 10 million cars to 73 million cars.
  • The top four producers of light vehicles — China, USA, Japan, and Germany — together account for more than half of the global output.
  • Hybrid vehicles are growing in number, but they remain below 2 per cent of the total vehicle output.

Deadly facts

  1. Approx. 1.3 million people get killed on roads every year.
  2. 70 per cent of air pollution in Chinese cities is from cars and trucks.
  3. Obesity is linked to high levels of car and truck pollution — diesel busses and trucks are the worst.
  4. Cars pollute the air, water and land.
  5. Cars of China and the USA alone produce close to half of the world’s carbon dioxide.

What should be done?

  1. Drive an electric car.
  2. Drive less. Walk more and gain health.
  3. Start a No Driving Day once a week.
  4. Walk, bike, take the bus or train whenever possible.
  5. Save your petrol-powered car for long trips.

PK Surendran is senior editor at Postnoon.