Thirty countries and 6 major automakers agree to phase out gas-powered vehicles by 2040

Photo (c) Dimitri Otis - Getty Images

The group says the initiative will spur clean growth and improve air quality

One by one, automakers and countries around the world are stepping up to say they’ll phase out sales of gasoline-powered vehicles by 2040. That number grew dramatically on Wednesday when six automobile manufacturers and 30 nations officially added their names to the list during international climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland.

Automakers that recently agreed to the climate initiative include Ford, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar Land Rover, Bolivian electric car company Quantum Motors, and Volvo. 

Ford and General Motors, in particular, are taking the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) notion seriously. Both carmakers are planning a bevy of new ZEV models "because they see they will lose market share if they don't," Commissioner Tremaine Phillips of the Michigan Public Service Commission told SmartCitiesDive. "Those automakers have committed to a decades-long, billion-dollar transition, which tells me the vehicles are coming."

Many countries agree to phase out gas-powered vehicles

On the government side, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Israel, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Norway, and Poland have also agreed to phase out gas-powered vehicles. Forty municipalities, states, and regional governments also added their name to the list. Those signing on to the initiative include Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Barcelona, Dallas, New York City, Rome, San Diego, San Francisco, and the states of California, New York, and Washington. 

“Together, we welcome the new opportunities for clean growth, green jobs and public health benefits from improving air quality; and that this transition could also boost energy security and help balance electricity grids as we make the transition to clean power,” the various governments said in their declaration.

The collective said it’s going to work as a unit and help others out -- like Turkey, Kenya, and Mexico -- “so that no country or community is left behind.”

Some of the “leading markets” promised to honor their commitment by 2035, and fleet owners and operators -- like Uber -- said they will work towards 100% of their car and van fleets being zero-emission vehicles by 2030.

Who’s missing?

The exceptions to the list are glaring: On the automaker side, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Nissan-Renault have not committed to eliminating gas-powered vehicles. 

Toyota and VW’s lack of commitment is interesting since those companies had made it a point to trumpet their support of electric vehicles earlier this year. VW had announced that it was going all-electric by 2030, and Toyota said it was making a major investment in electric vehicles.

Three major countries -- the U.S., China, and Japan -- also abstained from signing on, possibly because Toyota, VW, and Nissan all have factories in those countries.  

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