Toyota car sales to push planet beyond 1.5C heating limit: study

SYDNEY, 10 November 2022 - Carmakers worldwide, including Australians most trusted brand Toyota, are on track to sell an estimated 400 million more diesel and petrol vehicles than is feasible to keep global heating under 1.5°C, according to a new report published by Greenpeace Germany. [1][2] The overshoot is equivalent to approximately five times the total number of cars and vans sold globally in 2021.

Car sales by Toyota, Volkswagen, and Hyundai/Kia are on track to exceed the 1.5°C compatible trajectory by 63 million, 43 million, and 39 million combustion engine vehicles, respectively, jeopardizing global climate action, the report finds.

Traditional car manufacturers that are slow to transition to electric vehicles face potential stranded assets and risk a significant loss of market share as climate regulations take hold around the world. The report finds that over US$2 trillion is at risk in market capitalization and debt across the world’s 12 largest car manufacturers alone.

“A whopping 2.6 million Aussie drivers are considering switching to electric vehicles because of surging petrol prices and to do their bit to reduce transport emissions. We have demand that massively exceeds supply, but still car manufacturers like Toyota are making the transition to zero-emission vehicles far too slowly” said Lindsay Soutar, senior campaigner at Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

“As the climate crisis intensifies, governments around the world are rapidly moving to mandate the sale of electric only vehicles. If traditional automakers fail to electrify, they will lose out to newer, all-electric competitors and risk stranded assets. Toyota is on a collision course with the climate.”

“While the climate crisis is heavily debated at COP27 this week, Toyota and other car manufacturers continue to ignore the severity of the climate crisis. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Many manufacturers are moving – just this week Volvo announced an end to the sale of petrol vehicles in Australia by 2026. It’s time for Toyota to rapidly up its game.

Toyota is the largest carmaker in the world by sales, yet a recent study from Greenpeace East Asia found that electric vehicles comprised only one out of 500 cars that the company sold in 2021. Toyota received the lowest score in Greenpeace East Asia’s 2022 auto ranking due to its slow transition to zero-emission vehicles.

A Greenpeace Australia Pacific investigation recently exposed Toyota’s global track record of lobbying against measures to reduce climate pollution from vehicles, greenwashing and advocacy for fossil-fuelled hybrid vehicle technology.

Greenpeace is calling on the Australian government to urgently introduce strong fuel efficiency standards that put Australia on a trajectory to keep global warming to less than 1.5 degrees. Greenpeace will be closely monitoring engagement from Toyota and its representative bodies in any upcoming policy process.

The full report, The Internal Combustion Engine Bubble, is available here.

Expected combustion engine vehicle sales overshoot relative to a 1.5°C carbon budget
(as calculated in the Greenpeace Germany report )

Toyota Volkswagen Group Hyundai/Kia GM
Overshoot in % [lower bound; upper bound]* 164%

 [144%; 184%]


[100%; 136%]


[124%; 159%]


[25%; 90% ]

Overshoot in million vehicles [lower bound; upper bound] 63 million

[55 million;  71 million]

43 million

[37 million; 50 million]

39 million

[35 million; 44 million]

13 million

[6 million; 21 million ]

*Three transition scenarios were used in the report. The bolded figure refers to the base case, while the lower and upper limit results are listed in brackets.

[1] Three transition scenarios were used in the report: 397 million is the base case, while 330 million is the lower limit of the projection and 463 million the upper limit.

[2] The report was written by researchers at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney, the Center of Automotive Management, University of Applied Sciences (FHDW) Bergisch Gladbach, and Greenpeace Germany. Researchers determined the maximum number of internal combustion engine cars and vans that can be sold within a 1.5°C-aligned carbon budget, based on the Institute for Sustainable Futures’ One Earth Climate Model. They then projected future auto industry sales based on an assessment of  battery electric vehicle sales quotas and combustion engine phase out dates announced by four major auto manufacturers: Toyota, Volkswagen, Hyundai/Kia and General Motors.

Media contact:
For more information please contact Geeke van der Sluis on 0447 936 682 or email [email protected]