Car Makers Going Climate Crazy for 2020

2017 Niro

As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20, but a number of automakers are looking ahead to the year 2020 as a deadline for introducing technology aimed at combating climate change.

The most ambitious outlook comes from Hyundai, which says it, along with its Kia subsidiary, will have 26 vehicles with powertrains at least partially fuelled by electricity in its showrooms by 2020. That includes the Hyundai Ioniq and Kia Niro that are set for their official launches within the next year or so. There will also be a new Hyundai hydrogen fuel cell model on the road by 2018, to replace the current one based on the last-generation Tucson crossover. It’s expected most, if not all, of these Korean models will be sold in North America.

Next up is Mercedes-Benz, which wants to battle Tesla for supremacy in the all-electric upscale vehicle marketplace. Benz plans to add four all-electric vehicles to its lineup by 2020, all based on models in its current lineup: On the sedan side, look for electric C- and S-Class variants, and if you prefer crossovers, Mercedes will fill that need with battery-powered versions of its GLA- and GLC-Class models.

Part of Tesla’s advantage lies in easily-recognizable models, which, naturally, are rarely mistaken for vehicles with more conventional powertrains; that’s how Toyota’s Prius has more or less become synonymous with affordable hybrid technology. However, Benz says the use of existing vehicle architecture is a more cost-efficient way to achieve its electrification goals. Each vehicle slated for an electric powertrain will be optimized for that purpose and given design cues to set them apart from their gas-powered linemates.

Finally, GM is getting in on the 2020 action with its announcement that engine auto start/stop technology will be available on just about every one of its light-duty vehicles by that year.

Automatic start/stop is a fuel-saving feature that shuts off a vehicle’s engine when the car comes to a stop, such as at stoplights. It’s been used for many years in hybrid vehicles, where the electric motor can be used to get the engine spinning again, but it’s relatively new to gasoline- or diesel-fuelled cars, which need to be fitted with beefed up starter motors and batteries built to stand up to the extra demands placed on them. GM says it will address that through the use of more efficient absorbent glass mat batteries and starts designed to fire the engine up nearly instantly so the car can be driven away instantly when the driver takes their foot off the brake pedal.

Reducing fossil fuel reliance isn’t the only goal automakers are working toward for the end of this decade. Driverless cars are also a common endgame, as are a variety of other vehicle technologies like biometric vehicle access, vehicle tracking and remote vehicle shutdown to help combat high-speed pursuits.

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Chris Chase

Chris Chase

As a child, Chris spent much of his time playing with toy cars in his parents’ basement; when his mother would tell him to go play outside, he made car sounds while riding his bicycle or dug roads for his toys in the flower garden. Now he gets to indulge his obsession playing with real cars that make their own cool noises, and gets paid for it.