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News Navigator: Will gasoline cars no longer be produced in the future?

Toyota Motor Corp.'s self-driving electric vehicle "LQ" is seen at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2019. (Mainichi/Hiroshi Maruyama)

The Mainichi Shimbun answers some common questions readers may have about how the energy sources of motor vehicles will change in the future with stricter regulations on gasoline engine powered cars.

    Question: With the trend toward zero carbon emissions, will gasoline cars no longer be produced in the future?

    Answer: Because gasoline vehicles emit a lot of carbon dioxide (CO2) -- a type of greenhouse gas -- European countries plan to limit the production of all new cars from 2035 to only electric vehicles and fuel cell cars. New hybrid vehicles, which combine at least one electric motor with a gasoline engine to propel the car, will no longer be sold in Europe. The United States will require that electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles make up 50% of all new car sales in 2030. Though hybrid vehicles will still be available in Japan and China, sales of new cars driven by only gasoline engines are expected to be banned by 2035.

    Q: Why do regulations vary among countries and regions?

    A: Governments create policies that are favorable to their own automakers' strengths. As Toyota Motor Corp. launched the world's first mass-produced hybrid models, and hybrid cars are Japan's strong point, many domestic manufacturers want to produce them. Meanwhile, because European and U.S. companies entered the hybrid vehicle development market late, they apparently want to shift from hybrid to electric vehicles, which are easier to develop.

    Q: The move to electric vehicles, which are environmentally friendly, is inevitable, right?

    A: Electric vehicles are not completely environmentally friendly. While they do not emit CO2 when running, if electricity to produce the cars depends on thermal power generation, the production process emits a lot of CO2. At least one estimate showed that hybrid vehicles emit less CO2 in total than electric vehicles.

    Q: Will gasoline cars become obsolete?

    A: Toyota is developing hydrogen engine vehicles, which are driven by burning hydrogen instead of gasoline. Though they emit a small amount of CO2, the basic structure of the engine is the same as conventional ones. Therefore, compared to electric vehicles, which are made up of fewer parts, they are expected to help maintain employment in the auto industry in Japan, which has a large impact on Japan's economy.

    (Japanese original by Daichi Matsuoka, Business News Department)

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