Nowhere to go but the Earth

(Editor’s note: The article, which first appeared in the November 2016 issue of Carmudi Magazine, has been updated as of October 15, 2021)

Jonathan Mantle’s book “Car Wars: Fifty Years of Greed, Treachery, & Skullduggery in the Global Market Place” states, “A hundred years ago, there were six highly experimental cars. Today, there are close to 400 million cars on the planet: set bumper to bumper on a six-lane highway, they would stretch well over 200,000 miles, more than eight times around the earth.”

Mantle’s book is now 25 years old. Of course, those numbers he mentioned are nothing compared to today’s figures: 1.4 billion cars populating the earth (that’s over 24 times around the planet), and about 800 million more “to be born” by 2035, and then another 500 million by 2050, for a grand total of 2.5 billion by the first half of this century.

We’re talking billions here. It’s virtually impossible to count the exact number and correctly estimate the projections. But believe you me, after insects, humans, and online trolls, motorized vehicles take up the next slot in the list of the most pervasive denizens on this planet.

A 2.5-billion vehicle global “car parc” (the total number of vehicles in the country or region) would mean that to keep carbon emissions level with today’s total, average fleet fuel efficiency would have to double.

At the same time, however, climate scientists have urged that it would be necessary to cut average carbon emissions 80% if we wish to stabilize the impact of global climate change.

The Green Car Reports also quoted the Green Car Congress that of the 2 billion projected vehicles operating by 2035, just 2.5% of those would run on fuels other than petroleum (such as electric, plug-in hybrids, or fuel-cells). Another 8% would run as hybrid-electrics or natural-gas powered, while Navigant Research expects 45% would use start-stop systems.

We can only wish that as a thinking, compassionate species, we humans would harness the power of all these billions of vehicles for the good of all. Not just for fellow humans, but for all creatures we share the earth with. These animals are voiceless and defenseless, but they only wish to co-exist with us. And only we have the power to determine their fate.

We can all start being responsible, environmentally aware, and compassionate motorists by choosing the materials our vehicles are made of, especially in the interiors. That means shunning the leather (which we all know are made from animal skin) and going for cruelty-free interiors (such as Alcantara microfiber leather and Artico man-made leather, all faux leather).

What does leather have to do with the environment, you may ask. A lot, in fact. Leather tanning has been proven to pollute the atmosphere, and if you multiply that by the billions upon billions of square meters of leather that’s about to be tanned. The environmental consequences are global.

Using leather is cruel. Animals are skinned alive and conscious. The leather-making industry also uses hazardous chemicals that poison ground water. There are better alternatives to leather that do not retain heat when exposed under the sun for prolonged periods, do not pose risks to the environment, and do not sacrifice sentient beings. A car executive of a European brand revealed that some EU brands were shifting to faux leather because of the public clamor. So, before you buy a new car, make sure no animals were harmed in its making.

Apart from leather, tires also use animal products, believe it or not. Most tires use animal-derived stearic acid.

But it hasn’t been all slash-and-burn in the automotive industry. Many entities and individuals are in the news for their efforts at minimizing their impact on the environment, which includes cutting down on carbon dioxide emissions, reforestation projects, the development of alternative-fueled vehicles and technology to make cars fuel-efficient—anything to somehow cut back on the staggering 2.4 million pounds of climate-change-causing CO2 released into the atmosphere per second by all the world’s internal combustion engines (ICEs).

In fact, as of June 25, 2021, has listed a number of prominent global automakers who have pledged to “halt or drastically reduce producing cars with ICEs between 2030 and 2035” by going fully electric by that time. These are: BMW (which plans to sell 10 million fully electric vehicles or FEVs in the next decade); Volkswagen (which plans to have its EVs account for 60% of sales in Europe by 2030, and 50% of the global total); Volvo, which targets to retire its internal combustion engines and hybrids from its lineup by 2030 while aiming for half of its cars to be electric by 2025; GM (which has said it plans to “stop building polluting vehicles by 2035”); Stellantis, the group encompassing the Jeep, Chrysler, Fiat, Peugeot, Citroen and Opel brands, which declared that it aims for 70% of its sales to be electric and hybrid by 2030; Toyota, which said it aimed its pioneering hybrid vehicles to account for 70% of sales in 2025 and traditional ICEs to account for just 10%, and; Daimler, Mercedes-Benz’s maker, which declared that by 2025, it would aim for 25% of sales to be electric, going up to 50% by 2030. (

Let’s face it. We may be on different roads, but our destinations are the same–all on this tiny speck in the solar system, the third rock from the Sun that we call Earth.

Watch this compelling feature by the Fully Charged Show comparing EVs to ICEs, and why EVs are the hands-down winners in helping us “clean up” our act here on this planet:

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