Does Pickup Truck Electrification Help Stave Off Climate Change?

5 min readNov 13, 2022

Climate change has turned into a serious global problem. Aside from manufacturing companies in different industries, transportation has become an intensifying source of emissions. Fossil fuel usage is one of the major contributors to pollution. It is crucial to curb climate change by cutting carbon dioxide emissions. Since many vehicles use fuel to run, it contributes to global warming. Automakers are gradually replacing fuel-powered automobiles. But aside from cars being made electric, can the electrification of pickup trucks truly help stave off climate change?

Photo Credit: SimpsonFan311

Reducing emissions

The transition to electric vehicles is a way to eliminate tailpipe emissions. The goal is to have an attractive option for reducing smog-forming air pollution and global warming. The U.S. government has supported using electric vehicles (EVs) by giving some incentives to buyers. The latest policy will speed up the transition to EVs. Tightening the greenhouse gas emissions standards, particularly for larger gasoline-powered pickup trucks, could be hastened as they dominate the transportation’s carbon footprint.

Combining the overall rate of passenger cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks produce the most transportation emissions, as they are all responsible for 58 percent of the transportation sector’s greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The number of active fuel-powered vehicles we drive limits the change required for the rapid reduction in emissions.

According to an article from the Union of Concerned Scientists, driving the average EV yields substantial emissions savings. Switching from fuel-powered to electric provide more significant benefits if you’re driving an efficient EV model. Driving the most efficient electric vehicle produces lower emissions compared to an efficient gasoline car.

Electrifying large vehicles

Pickup trucks dominate American roads. The United States has the greatest number of light-duty pickups than other countries, as it is the most preferred vehicle by many drivers. Light-duty vehicles aren’t just about trucks with bigger wheels and tires. This category may also include sedans and SUVs.

The pickup truck market is the most lucrative compared to different vehicle segments. It is categorized into different sizes, from light-duty to heavy-duty ones, including trucks with dually wheels. Various automakers are launching electrified versions of their popular vehicles. Aside from other electric car models, Ford has released an electric version of the F-150 called Lightning. An electric Ram 1500 has also been launched, as well as General Motors’ Hummer EV and Chevrolet’s Silverado. A few auto startups like Rivian and Lordstown offer all-electric pickups.

Switching from gasoline to electric has an advantage, especially for large vehicles. The emissions from driving an EV truck are lower than the average latest gas or diesel pickup truck model.

Emissions still high

EV sales have rapidly grown but have not yet measurably cut carbon. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data, the carbon dioxide reduction rate from new vehicles has stalled, while the vehicle power and mass have reached record highs.

EV production also contributes to global warming emissions, higher than gasoline vehicles, due to the materials and energy required to manufacture the battery and other parts. However, the reductions from driving an EV offset the higher manufacturing emissions.

Despite the falling prices and rising EV sales, they have to face some challenging hurdles before they can entirely sweep the market. The excessive emissions from under-regulated SUVs and pickup trucks will harm the climate for many years because many gas vehicles remain on the road. Some consumers think charging is inconvenient, so they don’t want to switch to electric vehicles. They say charging the car takes a long time, so they would instead pump the tank with fuel.

Policy progress

President Biden’s signing of the executive order on electric vehicles isn’t only about environmental changes. It also has an economic plan that united both automakers and workers for the goal that EVs should make up 50 percent of all vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2030. Various automakers offer more EV choices and promise to make all-electric fleets, including their popular models. It will happen within 15 years or so.

Moreover, the Inflation Reduction Act includes subsidies for the domestic production of EVs, batteries, and other critical resources for EV production. There are also new incentives and used EVs. Instead of importing the supplies, the act will spur domestic manufacturing of batteries, EVs, and chargers.

The policy developments will help avoid the ecological harm of coal production. Rather than pumping gas, plug-in EVs can reduce smog-forming pollution and global warming. It also lessens the security and economic risks of the world oil market, especially now that fuel prices are erratic due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

California has recently updated its zero-emission vehicle program. The new regulations require all new light vehicles sold in the state to be qualified for zero emissions by 2035, allowing for a limited number of plug-in hybrid vehicles. Other states have adopted California’s emission standards, so cars running only on gasoline could ultimately be banned across the new American car market, which is about 40 percent.

By implementing the environmental policy on vehicles, actual emission reductions can be achieved. However, it will take about 20 years to replace a considerable rate of gas vehicles and on-road automobile fleets. Many people will still drive their cars running on fuel, and emitting carbon dioxide will continue in 2040 and beyond.

Catastrophic consequences on the environment

According to the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate change is rapid, widespread, and intensifying. Research conducted by the United Nations declared that it would lead to catastrophic consequences globally within the coming decade if there’s nothing done about the rising global temperatures.

The obstacles make it hard to determine whether the car market can move as quickly to an all-electric future. Electric automobiles don’t emit exhaust fumes, but batteries used in them can release toxic fumes. Aside from transitioning to EVs, these vehicles must also be powered up by renewable energy sources. The traditional non-renewable ones can harm both public health and the environment.

As mentioned in a Vox article, tackling climate change is complicated. The electrification of vehicles is just one thing out of the big picture. It can create a huge impact and combat climate change by electrifying everything.

Aside from gasoline vehicles, it can also essentially help if the technologies and sectors that still run combustion — such as natural gas heating and cooling — could be replaced. Using alternatives that run on electricity will help alleviate the burgeoning problem of climate change and global warming.

Road to net-zero climate emissions

Pickup truck electrification is only a part of a larger scale to stave off climate change. Switching from conventional trucks to EVs can indeed reduce carbon emissions and smog-forming air pollution. However, accelerating the adoption of EVs and improving the transition to renewable electricity as quickly as possible will maximize emission and pollution reductions. These changes are necessary to put the United States on a trajectory toward net-zero climate emissions in the coming years.




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