Tesla President: Tailpipe emissions more lethal than car itself [Video]

Guest Blog Post: Charles Morris is the Senior Editor of Charged, the magazine of electric vehicles, for which he writes a daily blog and regular print articles. He's also written five books including Tesla Motors: How Elon Musk and Company Made Electric Cars Cool, and Sparked the Next Tech Revolution.

In a new video clip, Melissa Gecolea of Hong Kong’s TVB Pearl interviews Jon McNeill, Tesla’s President of Global Sales and Services. Speaking at the company’s Hong Kong Service Center, the two chat briefly about the dual revolution - electrification and autonomy - that’s beginning to transform the automotive world. Tesla currently has 80% market share of the electric vehicle market in Hong Kong but the local government hasn't yet agreed on an extension of its EV incentives.


Above: McNeill sits down with Gecolea (Instagram: Melissa Gecolea*)

There are no great 'gotcha' moments here - Ms. Gecolea asks the kind of questions that people unfamiliar with EVs always ask (How long will it be before EVs hit the mainstream? How long does it take to charge?). However, the more often these questions get asked and answered, the sooner the ranks of the unfamiliar will shrink. Tesla seldom makes executives (or anyone) available for interviews by journalists, so it’s a treat to watch even this tidbit. 


Above: McNeill and Gecolea (Instagram: Melissa Gecolea*)

McNeill opens with an interesting point - Tesla has long argued that autonomy will make vehicles safer, but reducing emissions makes them safer too. “Here in Hong Kong, last year, about 122 people died in automobile accidents. Over 2,000 died of auto emissions-related lung cancer and lung disease. So, actually the tailpipe of the car is 25 times more lethal than the car itself.”


Above: Model S at Tesla Supercharger station (Instagram: nysira.tv)

McNeill repeats news that the Norwegian government has or had plans to ban the sale of gas-powered cars by 2025. In fact, while Norway, the world’s EV capital, does have strong incentives in place to spur EV adoption, a member of parliament and a spokesman for the country’s transport ministry have both said that there are no plans for any outright ban.


Above: A growing fleet of electric cars led by Tesla (Instagram: electricarses)

While he may have jumped the gun a bit (as did many journalists), McNeill is correct in saying that ICE bans are in the pipeline - in October, Germany’s Bundesrat called on the EU Commission to implement a ban by 2030. In the Netherlands, a plan to ban the tailpipe by 2025 passed the lower house of parliament in August.


Above: Gecolea's interview with McNeil (Source: Melissa Gecolea*)

Next Gecolea makes a good point: even the “lower priced” Model 3 may be too pricey for consumers in developing countries. Will they be left behind in a cloud of oily smoke? McNeill reminds us that one of the main goals for the Gigafactory, which will double the worldwide production of lithium-ion batteries, is to bring the costs of battery production down, which should eventually allow automakers to produce lower-cost electric vehicles. Asked about public utility vehicles, McNeill replies that short haul trucking is "one of the places we're looking to go next" along with buses and "other things as well."


*Source: Melissa Gecolea (Youtube / Instagram)