Carmakers struggle to navigate tech and environmental politics

Global Business

The U.S. auto industry is moving forward though its direction remains unclear. The final destination likely includes fully electric vehicles.

But gas-guzzling pickup trucks and SUV’s still remain among the best U.S. sellers. CGTN’s Nick Harper reports from Detroit.

It’s a balancing act, with electric models sitting alongside traditional combustion engine vehicles.

“Fuel emissions issues are not going away anytime soon, they’re just getting more and more strict,” Stephanie Brinley of IHS Markit said. “You’ve lots of different governments around the world considering banning fossil fuel vehicles.

Brinley went on to say, a lot of governments have said that’s where they want to go, and automakers need to respond to that.

To curb emissions, China is among a number of governments considering a ban on gas and diesel-powered cars.

To help, they’re offering subsidies for companies to make, and consumers to buy, electric vehicles.

Meantime, American lawmakers are considering scrapping similar electric car credits – and that worries carmakers.

“That would be a concern because that would limit the expansion of the electric car quite significantly, when the electric car is probably the future, and you don’t want the United States to be well behind the trend,” Christian Meunier, Global Division Vice President for INFINITI said.

Meunier said it would be sad to see China become the leader by far and the U.S. not stepping up towards electrification.

But that electrification is a chicken and egg problem. Some governments may want more electric, but carmakers say they need more infrastructure – things like charging stations. At the moment, there’s simply not enough.

“Certainly infrastructure plays a key part, whether it’s fuel cells, electrification, you’ve got to have that in place,” Carl Zipfel, Exterior Design Manager for GMC said. So there’s got to be a good cooperation working between the OEMs and the government agencies to make that sure that’s all happening.”

With differing government policies, there’s potentially a bumpy road ahead for the global car industry as it tries to navigate environmental and technological demands.