The EU is debating over a new law that could compel all carmakers to reduce average emissions of new cars to 130 grams CO2/km by 2012, with a further 10 grams of CO2 savings to come from other measures, such as biofuels. MEPs in the European Parliament's industry and environment committees will vote on the proposal in early September (1 and 8/9 September respectively) and ministers will discuss it in October.
Jos Dings, director of T&E, said “with the threat of legislation looming, BMW has shown that even premium carmakers can seriously reduce CO2. But the slow response of most carmakers shows that the EU needs to keep up the pressure with challenging long-term CO2 targets”.
The German group Daimler made a 3.5% improvement in fuel efficiency from 2006-2007. But only 1.5% of this figure represents real efficiency gains. The rest is attributed to its break-up with US car company Chrysler, which makes many fuel-thirsty sports-utility vehicles and small trucks.
Despite German carmakers' progress in 2007, they continue to make some of the most polluting cars on Europe's roads. They remain far behind their French rivals, who make smaller lighter cars with average carbon emissions of 143 g/km in 2007. The French companies PSA Peugeot-Citroën and Renault are closest to reaching the EU's target.
Japanese carmakers produced cars with average CO2 emissions of 157 g/km in 2007, a figure which covers relatively eco-efficient carmaker Toyota and less eco-friendly makers Nissan, Mazda and Suzuki.
The T&E report was based on official EU data, which covers eighteen countries (the EU 15 plus Hungary, Lithuania and Slovenia) that make up 94% of the EU's car market.
T&E accuse the car industry of trying to water down the proposed law by delaying the start date for part of the car fleet and expanding the list of eco-innovations, which takes the pressure off companies to make greener engines. Referring to BMW, Dings said “their engineers have done a good job, but their lobbyists have been much less enthusiastic”.
No one from the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) or the German Carmakers' Association (VDA) was available for comment. However an ACEA representative referred to its position that European car manufacturers “support the EU objective of further reducing average car emissions to 120 grams carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometre by 2012”. ACEA and the VDA want the Commission to take into account so-called “eco-innovations”, such as solar roofs and energy-efficient headlamps.