After a long history resisting action on climate change, the Australian government finally ‘committed’ to net zero by 2050, and then did an about face, and announced support for electric vehicles. Or did they?
- Relevance: A Series On Political Influencers.
- The Australian Government And The Democracy Failure On Climate Action.
- Toyota: No3 Worldwide In Companies Negatively Influencing Climate Action.
- “Scotty From Marketing”: Questions On History Of Truth.
- Scott Morrison And The Fight Against Electric Vehicles.
Relevance: A Series On Political Influencers.
I have been building series of explorations on world political influencers, ranging from Trump, Putin, Xi Jinping, through to Bolsonaro and even Scott Morrison, with a focus on how individuals impact polarisation and the future of democracy. Expect more pages soon.
The Australian Government And The Democracy Failure On Climate Action.
Scott Morrison has significance, because he gets to play a role in the global politics of climate change action, with Australia playing a bigger role in holding back climate action than would seem logical based on population. However, the physical size of the country and enormous potential sources of renewable energy, allow Australia to play a huge role in the battle of ‘big oil and gas’ vs green energy.
Of all the developed countries, Australia has the poorest standing on climate.Bas Eickhout: Dutch Parliament Delegation leader (via CNN) .
Toyota: No3 Worldwide In Companies Negatively Influencing Climate Action.
Toyota Motor has campaigned against proposed regulations globally to phase out internal combustion engines in favor of electric vehicles in 2020-21 and ranks 3rd on InfluenceMap’s list of global companies most negatively influencing Paris-aligned climate policy. It is joined by BMW (18th), Daimler (24th) and Hyundai (25th) from the automotive sector, which as a group is highly negative on stringent climate regulation on the automotive sector.The 50 Most Influential Companies and Industry Associations Blocking Climate Policy Action Globally
Only the largest American Oil companies block Toyota from 1st place. Toyota, currently the largest, and richest, manufacturer of internal combustion vehicles, sees electric vehicles as a significant threat. While hybrids increase car complexity and cost, battery electric vehicles remove the most complex parts of a car, the internal combustion engine, gear box and cooling systems. While you might think governments would not force consumers to buy more expensive cars as EV prices inevitably fall, Toyota in Japan has a government that already forces consumers to keep buying new cars in a planned obsolesce program to support the automobile industry.
Toyota is so concerned about the job loses in Japan from the move to electric vehicles that it has even formed “team Japan” to help keep the combustion engine alive. See “Toyota: The Anti-Electric Vehicle Company” for more, but Toyota is calling out that progress is bad for corporate profits and lowering prices is bad for economic activity. EVs can be built with 1/3 of the labour hours of building an ICE vehicle or hybrid, and Toyota argues that would be disaster for jobs in Japan.
However, there are other questions on Toyota’s ‘green’ history, and despite the seemingly environmentally friendly although complicated and expensive for the performance Prius, Toyota has been the only brand in the US to increase average fuel consumption of its fleet.
“Scotty From Marketing“: Questions On History Of Truth.
Scott Morrison And The Fight Against Electric Vehicles.
An About Face?
While Scott Morrison once “electric vehicles will kill the weekend”, he also says “I don’t have a problem with electric vehicles”. Perhaps people misunderstood that he never had a problem with killing the weekend.
But although many question this new support of electric vehicles, a major point was missed by much of the media.
Toyota Hydrogen Car Vs Electric Vehicle.
What many reporters seemed to miss, is that Scott Morrison spent the day he announced an electric vehicle policy, at Toyota, the most staunch opponent of electric vehicles, of the entire automobile industry.
Morrison did experience a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle. Instead of the electric cars becoming so popular, that one was the top selling car in the UK last month, and already comprising around 10% of global vehicle sales, no Scott Morrison chose a far more fringe option.
To get an idea of how fringe, electric vehicles sales this year are estimated to reach 5.6 million vehicles, while hydrogen car sales are at 11,200 for the year, or 0.2% of electric vehicle sales. And even that small number of hydrogen vehicle sales are heavily subsidised. Why don’t hydrogen cars sell, and why are they subsidised? Well, hydrogen vehicles do help economic activity as:
- Running costs of hydrogen vehicles are around 8x higher than battery vehicles.
- Unsubsidised purchase prices of hydrogen vehicles are around 3x higher than battery vehicles.
- Maintenance cost so hydrogen vehicles are also higher.
Every additional spend required from consumers will result in a larger economy, and while Australia no longer builds cars, Japan does, so at least the extra work of building the more complex car would result in jobs somewhere.
Toyota And The Australian Government: An Anti EV alliance?
One possibility is that the Australian government wants an ally who also does not want electric vehicles. Toyota is so anti electric vehicles that not only has it formed ‘combustion vehicle alliance‘, it is even looking at moving hydrogen cars away from fuel cells, and to combustion, despite the efficiency losses from combustion. Perhaps it is because people will miss the nitrous oxides that are avoided by not burning the hydrogen? Or is it because fuel cell vehicles require so much less hydrogen? Of course, given Toyota is ready to spend so much on strategies to kill off Electric Vehicles, it could just be these will never be practical anyway. But if you were “Scotty From Marketing”, and you did not really want electric vehicles, it might make sense to work together with companies applying that largest marketing budget to stopping electric vehicles.
Is Political Support Possible? Toyota Supports Trump Supporters and Even The Far Right.
A second possibility is that Toyota may even provide political support. In the US, Toyota is the largest donor to those in the US supporting an insurrection and declaring Trump the winner in 2020. It seems that policies of the far right can align with the objectives of Toyota. Who know what limits there are on support available to groups in government that will assist the largest combustion vehicle company in the world. While it is unlikely that the leaders of Toyota set out to support the far right, it seems that when agendas overlap, the link is insufficient to end Toyota support.
Or, Maybe ScoMo Believes In Hydrogen Cars?
The other possibility is that those in the government just don’t realise that the only remaining supporters of hydrogen cars are those working hardest to delay the move to electric vehicle? Perhaps they feel they know better than fools like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos (investor in Rivian, another electric vehicle company valued above Ford and General Motors), or Warren Buffet (Investor in BYD, 4th largest car company in the world and competing with Tesla for largest EV maker).
Perhaps there is nothing underhand, and the Australian government just believes the battery electric vehicles, even those like the Rivian ‘truck of the year’ in the US ‘ute’/pickup, for Ford F150 Lightning, or the Hummer EV, would rob Australians of their weekends, and therefore supports hydrogen vehicles over electric vehicles. The problem with this story, is that the Australian government is saying it now supports electric vehicles. Which mean either they have seen none of the statements by Toyota of how they are opposed to electric vehicles, or on how Toyota formed an alliance to keep the internal combustion engine alive in Japan. So this option requires the Australian government to be either naïve and ignorant, or intent on deceiving the Australian electorate.
In the end, it is hard to know which option is worse.
An example of how a country can resist the move to electric vehicles without telling voters?
It is hard to know which possibly is most likely:
- Despite all the evidence, and sales at 500 to 1 against, the Australian government believes in hydrogen over battery technology and has not seen any of the widely reported stories on how Toyota is anti-electric vehicles.
- The Australian government feels that if those supporting insurrection the the US can get political support from Toyota, there is a real opportunity to obtain support for a political party in Australia that has goals aligned with Toyota.
- The Australian government want to delay any climate action and sees Toyota as an ally.
Which one do you believe? Or is there another possibility?