Germany launches 3-year, €36M research project into technology for safer Li-ion batteries for electric vehicles
Solar fuels company Joule commissions first plant to demo commercial readiness, launches Joule Fuels subsidiary to advance direct solar-to-fuels platform

Global auto production may hit 80+ million units this year; hybrids below 2% of total output

Worldwide light-duty vehicle production. Source: Worldwatch. Click to enlarge.

Production of light-duty passenger vehicles (cars and light trucks) 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 for its Vital Signs Online service. Hybrids remain below 2% of total vehicle output.

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 emerging economies, especially China.

The auto industry’s production capacities are far from fully used; PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) estimates current global vehicle assembly capacity at almost 95 million, the report notes. Auto manufacturing capacity continues to grow, and annual output could reach the 100 million mark by 2016.

Rising sales translate into an ever-expanding global vehicle parc. 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—30 million more than just a year earlier. By the end of 2012, the global fleet could top 1 billion vehicles—one for every seven people on the planet.

Electric vehicle (EV) production remains at barely perceptible levels, according to the report. 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% of the global EV fleet 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. 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.

—Michael Renner

Fuel efficiency has been improving in all the major car nations over the past decade, with stricter consumption limits for coming years enacted or proposed.

  • Japan and the European Union (EU) continue to be the global leaders.
  • South Korea has improved its fuel economy by one third since 2003.
  • China is considering a limit of 5 l/100 km (47 mpg US) for 2020 that would bring it close to Japan’s 4.5 l/100 km (52.3 mpg US) for 2020.
  • The United US, Canada, and Australia are making progress, but nonetheless continue to lag behind. E.g., the 2025 CAFE/GHG limits in the US would be similar to what Japan already requires for 2015.

Discussions about reducing the environmental impacts of vehicles tend to focus on technical improvements, such as engines, aerodynamic design, and fuels, yet another concern is the distances traveled. Even though the United States has just 25% of the total population of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations, in 2008 it alone accounted for just above 40% of the 10.3 trillion passenger-kilometers driven in all OECD member countries. Still, US car travel is down slightly from its peak of 4.3 trillion passenger kilometers (pkm) in 2005, to 4.1 trillion pkm in 2008.

The Chinese are increasingly taking to the roads, with driving distances rising from 262 billion pkm in 1990 to 1.351 trillion pkm in 2009, slightly more than a fivefold expansion.

On a per capita basis, people in OECD countries drive about 8,500 kilometers in private cars annually. People in Canada (14,600 km) and the United States (13,500 km) drive greater distances than people in Europe (an average of just over 11,000 km in the four largest European countries). In Japan, the average driver covers only about 6,400 km, while in China, the average distance per person works out to a much shorter 1,000 km.

Further highlights from the report include:

  • The passenger vehicle fleet in China grew at an annual average rate of 25% during 2000-11, from fewer than 10 million cars to 73 million cars.

  • The top four producers of light vehicles—China, the United States, Japan, and Germany—together account for more than half of global output. China consolidated its lead, manufacturing 17.3 million light vehicles in 2011, with 2012 output projected to reach 18.4 million.

  • Car travel in non-OECD countries doubled between 1975 and 2000, but it then picked up pace by doubling again in just the decade to 2010.



With world economies in the mess they are, I would have expected a dramatic drop in emissions. Don't the data reflect that over the last four years?

Account Deleted

The world economy is not in a mess. It is booming and the global annual vehicle production numbers confirms this fact.

However, both USA, Japan and EU27 faces low economic growth currently and probable for some years to come as they owe money to the developing world that now make up for more than half of the global economy. Fossil energy prices are going to rise as a result of this boom in the world economy and that is also needed in order to grow the more sustainable forms of technology such as PV solar, wind power and electric vehicles.


At average Japanese mileages, it is difficult to amortise the extra cost of electric cars.
Of course, for BEVs it is also difficult to drive more than 70 miles in a day, so sales are dependent on people with relatively limited need to go long distances, but high annual mileage.
Hence the comparative popularity of EREVs.


Most manufacturers (with the exception of Toyota) have not yet mass produced electrified vehicles in significant numbers. By 2014/2015, most of them will be on board the electrified vehicle train and numbers will boom.

Meanwhile prices will keep going down and performance will keep going up. Many HEVs are already very competitive. Ford may sell their new 2013/2014 Lincoln HEV at the same price as the ICEV counterpart. By 2015 or so most others will follow.

By 2020 or so, extended range BEVs and City BEVs will be very competitive with the ICEVs counterpart. by 2025 or so they may even be cheaper.

The complete switch from ICEVs to Electrified vehicles will take about 30 years. Post 2030/2035 sales will be mostly electrified vehicles.


Henrik...the Global Economy may not be in a complete mess yet but it is getting very near fast. The accelerated shift of wealth from the 97% to the 3% and the HUGE national debts will bring the downfall of the current system by 2029 (or before) unless drastic corrective measures are taken. Many countries in EU are getting there at a fast pace. USA will soon follow. No country will avoid the final crash. Fortunes will tumble. The all mighty USD will fall to $0.01 or less.

Refuges will be rare. Real states will tumble with the rest for lack of buyers and owners going under their unmanageable debts. Solid Gold may offer some limited safeguard. Basic essential food and energy products may go down a bit less. Non essentials will crash like they did in 1929 and more so. The current unmodified pyramidal economic system is bound to fail.

People living in very isolated areas like Bhutan, above the Arctic Circle and a few other similar places may be better off.

Account Deleted


Relax, there are far more people on this planet that get better off each year than those who get worse off. Your talk about 97% getting worse off and the eventual collapse of society is pure nonsense and comparable to the utter nonsense that Karl Marx wrote about in Das Capital.

About your other blog then you tend to think that higher vehicle fuel efficiency is coming all by it selves. It does not. It needs a motivator. It can either be higher oil prices or legislation requiring manufactures to make more efficient vehicles.

Do not expect much to happen with the global sales of hybrids or plug-ins until it is required by legislation or until oil approaches 200USD per barrel.


Figures splitting out petrol vs diesel and cars by region would be interesting.



I'm not the only one to predict a turn for the worse if nothing positive is done to correct the current loop holes. Politicians have their hands tied with $$$$ received for their very expensive election. Do not expect too much from them to correct what has gone wrong. We do not need Karl Marx and company. Just common sense legislation to plug the 1001 loop holes, to reduce current growing wealth disparities and reduce exponential nation debts growth. About 50% of my lifetime savings are invested in private enterprises but I'm seriously thinking about making many strategic changes.

More efficient cleaner electrified vehicles will sell better when purchasing and operating old time ICEVs cost much more and purchasing electrified vehicles cost much less. That could be done with progressive higher liquid fuel price, higher registration fees and higher sales taxes on ICEVs and/or lower or zero or negative sale taxes on electrified vehicles. Not sure that this can be done in an election year, election funds collection obliges....

Meanwhile, the Toyota Prius III is a very good compromise.

Roger Pham

Sorry to inform you otherwise that, NO, economies around the world are not booming like you think. Even in China, many factories are closing due to lack of demand due to economic collapses elsewhere in the world. This is very easy to understand: When jobs are outsourced to the lowest labor cost in the world, workers in the developed world are losing their jobs and can't buy anything, while workers in the developing world are paid too little to buy any foreign imports. As the results, economies will have to collapse when the bubble burst.

>>>"Do not expect much to happen with the global sales of hybrids or plug-ins until it is required by legislation or until oil approaches 200USD per barrel'

The best kept secret is that HEV and PHEV and BEV have much lower overall costs than ICEV. Much lower fuel costs and much lower repair costs and last much longer. As the result, the mfg can charge a HEV or PHEV or even BEV the same price as their comparable ICEV, while putting the price differential on payment plan, over 5-10 years. Because fuel cost and repair cost will be so low, the monthly payment + the fuel cost will still be far lower than the fuel cost of an equivalent ICEV.

When the HEV or PEV's are priced the same as their ICEV counterparts, we will see that the choice for the customer will be obvious. People will all rush out to buy PEV's and HEV's and will forget about ICEV's.


Henrik...I've taken my own advice and have cashed in (with profit) two investments involved in non-essential products. Will cash in two more this week and so on for the next 4+ weeks or so. Will look at opportunities (probably in 2013 or whenever the world economy turns positive) to re-invest in enterprises dealing with basic essential products such as food production, distribution retail, energy production and distribution, prescribed drugs, essential medicare services, very low price retailers etc.

Bob Wallace

"With world economies in the mess they are, I would have expected a dramatic drop in emissions. Don't the data reflect that over the last four years?"

US CO2 emissions peaked in 2005. Since then they have fallen to 1990s levels. 2010 CO2 emissions were 6.6% lower than the 2005 level, approximately the level of 1998. First quarter 2012 was at the first quarter 1992 level.

CO2 levels were going down prior to the economic crash.

GDP increased $1,903.5 million or 15.1%, 2005 to 2010. GDP was higher for every single year following 2005, only dipping a bit in 2009.

Electrical generation increased 72,226 tMWhs or 1.8%, 2005 to 2010.

Oil consumption dropped 1,622 thousand barrels per day or 7.8%, 2005 to 2010. Some of that is due to less flying. Miles driven was down only 0.8% from 2005.

The 6.6% drop in CO2 is likely due to a number of factors. Less coal and more natural gas, an increase in non-hydro renewable generation (now ~4% of our grid supply) and higher fuel efficiency for cars and planes.

Europe (EU27) also seems to have peaked, perhaps as early as 1990, and is falling but at a lower rate than is the US.

Bob Wallace

"Do not expect much to happen with the global sales of hybrids or plug-ins until it is required by legislation or until oil approaches 200USD per barrel."

You missed the important game-changer.

The price of batteries. Get batteries below $200/kW and EV/PHEV sales will likely soar.

Think about it. You go into your preferred brand car dealer to buy a new ride. The buggy you love comes in three versions - fuel, 40 mile range PHEV, or 100+ mile range EV. All the same price, same color, same interior package, just a large operating cost difference.

You going to buy the fuel version and pay 10 cents or more per mile (plus oil changes, etc.) or the PHEV that you can drive your first 40 for 4 cents a mile and as much more as you want for 10 cents a mile or the EV that you can drive for 4 cents a mile?

Most people are going to look at that choice and realize that they could use at least one EV in their household fleet. And those with only one car are going to look at the savings of being able to commute on electricity.


Yes BW... there are many reasons for reduction in CO2 in many industrial countries including USA between 2005 and 2011. Most of the one you mentioned are important and correct.

One major reason you haven't mentioned is the important transfer of production facilities (and associated pollution) from USA to Asia, mainly to China. Didn't we effectively pushed pollution to Asia in order to reduce ours.

By careful with GDP increases because a growing percentage is really due to increased local sales of imported goods from Asia, mainly from China; not due to local production increases. If imported goods were excluded, our GDP would be much lower.


We do not need legislation to spur sales of hybrids or plug-ins.

Let them become desirable on their own.

If we do not want them why should "our own" gov force them on us.

EVs have been “just around the corner” now for over 10 years.

There is a gorilla in the room; “hybrids below 2% of total output”.

And no, it is NOT because; “Most manufacturers except Toyota have not yet mass produced electrified vehicles”.

It is because people are not BUYING them.

Account Deleted

Roger and others

The global economy is booming as can be seen from the GDP growth numbers given in CIA factbook (see link below).

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$80.33 trillion (2011 est.)
$77.46 trillion (2010 est.)
$73.65 trillion (2009 est.)
note:data are in 2011 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

GWP (gross world product): $69.99 trillion (2011 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

3.7% (2011)
5.2% (2010 est.)
-0.8% (2009 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$12,000 (2011 est.)
$11,700 (2010 est.)
$11,300 (2009 est.)
note:data are in 2011 US dollars

Any growth rate above 2% pro anno is considered a boom with falling unemployment. From 0 to 2% it is slow growth with slowly increasing unemployment as new technology enable more production with less people. The annual technological progress is about 2% so the economic growth rate needs to be higher than that in order to create more new jobs than are destroyed by technological advances.


You are right. I did not mention technological advances and they matter especially in the long-term. However, with regard to fuel efficiency I think you will see that changes in oil prices and legislation are what will trigger and guide the technological change. The point is that unless oil prices go much up or legislation will require it technology will be developed to make faster and more convenient cars rather than more fuel efficient cars. Don’t expect cheaper batteries to be developed fast unless there is an urgent need for it.


Henrik...please do not mix Global GDP with USA GDP. USA's real GDP (excluding imported goods sold locally and included in GDP as locally produced goods) has been negative and/or going down for the last 5 to 8 years while China's and India's have been close to or over 10%/year.

A very high percentage of USA's purchasing power is done with borrowed $$$ and is therefore a fake. Investment $$$$B have been moving out of USA for 10+ years and that is a fact.


Have taken my own advice one more time and have cashed in 3 more investments today. Will stay in a cash situation for a while but will continue to monitor. Will resume to cash in more during the next 4 to 5 weeks with on-going after sale monitoring. Future investments are also being monitored closely.

Bob Wallace

"One major reason you haven't mentioned is the important transfer of production facilities (and associated pollution) from USA to Asia...."

Our electrical production went up. Our oil consumption dipped only slightly. It's hard to see how moving production to Asia was what caused CO2 levels to drop when energy use pretty much rose as CO2 emissions fell.

Had energy use significantly dropped, then I'd agree. But....

Bob Wallace

"...careful with GDP increases because a growing percentage is really due to increased local sales of imported goods from Asia, mainly from China; not due to local production increases. If imported goods were excluded, our GDP would be much lower."

I don't think so. Here's the definition of GDP that I found...

"The monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country's borders in a specific time period, though GDP is usually calculated on an annual basis. It includes all of private and public consumption, government outlays, investments and exports less imports that occur within a defined territory.

Bob Wallace

"The point is that unless oil prices go much up or legislation will require it technology will be developed to make faster and more convenient cars rather than more fuel efficient cars. Don’t expect cheaper batteries to be developed fast unless there is an urgent need for it."

Last month President Obama worked out an agreement with car manufacturers to raise fleet mileage to 54.5 mpg by 2025. And that includes light trucks and SUVs which were excluded under past mileage standards.

I expect cheaper batteries to be developed at 'max warp' because there are fortunes to be made and problems to be avoided.

Imagine that you develop a battery that gives us 200 mile range EVs with <20 rapid charging capability and you can sell the EVs at a price which is lower than ICEVs.

Can you imagine how quickly you could sell every unit you could squeeze out of your factory?

Driving for "$1/gallon" rather than with $4/gallon fuel. Avoiding have to go to the gas station. Avoiding oil changes and a bunch of other maintenance/repair costs. Driving a more responsive, quieter car.

The way car companies are going to reach the 54.5 mpg fleet average is to sell a lot of no-fuel cars along with <40 mpg larger cars, trucks and SUVs.

Battery development is getting pushed faster and faster by market forces.


BW...all sales, regardless of where the goods come from, are part of the national GDP. Are sales discounted to account for the imported one? To some extend that may be done but there is a huge time lag. The discounting is very difficult to do accurately because the value of imported goods vary each time it changes hand.

I fully agree with you that driving electrified vehicles are currently less costly than driving ICEVs. Sooner or latter, States/Provinces and Fed authorities will have to tax the electricity used to charge our PHEVs and BEVs to compensate for lost revenues with lower liquid fuel sales. One way to avoid that would be to progressively increase liquid fuel taxes to offset lost of revenues with reduced volumes. Some places may do both.

The problem with BEVs is (with a few exception such as the Tesla S) lack of range per charge. We are used to 300+ miles or 500+ Km and since quick recharges are not available everywhere

HarveyD confirm what I was saying about USA's GDP, it is estimated (by top economists) that the sales of the new Apple iPhone5 (100% made in Asia) will increase USA's GDP by 0.25% to 0.5% by year end.

The same can be said about the iPad-1, iPad-2 and iPad-HD, other Apple products and a very high percentage of all goods sold at WalMart, Target, Dollard Family Stores, Cosco, etc etc.

In other words, you could close all USA's manufacturing facilities and the GDP could still go up. That much for GDP...

Bob Wallace

Increased sales of foreign produced goods might increase overall US economic activity but those goods are not part of the US GDP. Nothing produced outside of the US is counted in the Gross Domestic Product.

It's also possible that increased sales of a foreign-manufactured product could boost US GDP if that product used exported US machinery or materials. That would increase GDP.

Do you have a link to that claim? I'd like to read it. I suspect they were talking about overall economic activity, not GDP. Possibly what they were discussing is a new imported product might stimulate economic activity and that increased activity might lead to more money sloshing around in our economy and creating more demand for US made products.


But, whatever, the 2005 peak in US CO2 emissions happened before the current recession started. Our GDP is significantly higher now than in 2005 and our CO2 levels are down. They are moving in opposite directions and have been for seven years.



The data was published on the local paper three days ago (a reprint from Bloomberg?)

According to the World Bank (in current USD at official exchange rates**):

In the last 5 years (2007 to 2011 incl):

China's GDP went up 103.7%
USA's GDP went up only 8.8% in five full years.

In the previous 5 years (2002 to 2006 incl):

China's GDP went up 79.5%
USA's GDP went up only 25.7%

Where it is starting to hurt is during the last 10 years:

China + HK went from only $1.61 T to $7.84T
USA went from $10.59 T to $15.1 T

At the current rate (last 5 years) China's GDP could overtake USA's by 2020 or slightly before.

(**) Since most US authorities claim that the current offical exchange rate of the Chinese currency is undervalued by up to 50%, the real China's GDP may be 50+% higher yet, i.e. some $11.76 T instead of $7.84 T for 2011.

(*) On the other hand, many think that the USD official exchange rte is overvalued by about 25%. That would make USA's adjusted GDP for 2011 something like $11.32 T instead of $15.09 T

(***) by adjusting 2011 GDP to more realistic exchange rates, the relative GDP would be:

1. China's at $11.76 T
2. USA's at $11.32 T.

That much for GDPs....


USA should be better recognized for its anti-pollution programs. Very few industrialized countries did better, certainly NOT Canada with its 25 tonnes per capita and rising. Canada is NOT a good example to follow.

However, when your are a top polluter, it is normally easier to take off the first 20%, specially during an extended recession and a period when mass production is being transferred to others.

The same applies to obese people, the first 25 lbs are rather easy but the next 25 or 50 lbs are more of a challenge. People that are already at their normal weight (17 to 25 ratio) do not have to take off 25 lbs or so, very few lbs to get back to the middle of the fork (if required) would do.

Countries like Sweden, Norway, Denmark and a few others are good examples to follow.

The comments to this entry are closed.