The proliferation of large electric vehicles risks undermining the environmental and economic benefits of the green transport transition, argues Christian Brand.

The transition towards electrified road transport is a cornerstone of global efforts to mitigate climate change. Sales figures indicate a remarkable transformation in the global vehicle fleet, with 14% of new cars sold being electric. However, this shift is paradoxically intertwined with an increase in the production, sales and use of large and heavy vehicles, a phenomenon I term ‘mobesity’. While electrification promises reduced lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions, the trend towards larger electric vehicles, particularly electric SUVs (e-SUVs), poses significant challenges. On the positive side, e-SUVs are about three times more energy efficient than their conventional internal combustion engine counterparts. However, larger, heavier and often more powerful electric vehicles not only require more resources to build — thereby increasing their environmental footprint — but also undermine the potential gains from electrification due to their greater energy consumption and associated emissions across the vehicle and fuel lifecycles. Even as the global fleet becomes electrified, the expected reductions in energy consumption and emissions may not materialize at the scale and pace required to reduce emissions in line with global climate targets.


Christian Brand.

Publication Details

Brand C. Confronting mobesity is vital for the global electrification of transport. Nature.