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Hopes rise for US vehicle emission cuts  

It has often been said that the key to making sure that future targets for reducing carbon emissions into the atmosphere is to clean up vehicle emissions in the US. Few, if any, other countries in the world have such a love affair with, and reliance on, the motor vehicle. Much of the heavy industry in the US was built around giant car companies, and while the companies themselves have had to undergo huge changes in order to survive, the influence of the car is still just as strong. According to an Environmental Defence study, Global Warming on the Road, US automobiles and light trucks are responsible for nearly half of all greenhouse gases emitted by automobiles globally.

The report also found that nearly three-quarters of the carbon emissions released by cars and pickup trucks on US roads came from just the three major US car manufacturers – General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler. This is quite a statistic, given the global movement of cars and the amount of import and export trade that goes on. More interestingly, it also shows the power of the domestic brands in minds of US markets.

Getting the American public to switch to electric vehicles will be a very difficult task, but not one without precedent – according to Environmental News Network some 38 per cent of cars in the US in 1900 were electric powered, with just 22 per cent powered by petrol.

While demand for gasoline-powered cars rocketed throughout the 20th Century, the current top three sectors of the industry for growth are for hybrids, diesels and small cars, which are were up by 46 per cent in March this year, while the market as a whole rose by 17 per cent.

A combination of market forces and the influence of the three big car marques in the US leading consumers in the direction of cleaner motoring in the US could trigger the biggest ever change in the motor industry.

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