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Merkel fights German carmakers’ battle

Germany’s luxury carmakers are raising the stakes in their battle to weaken EU legislation that will set fuel consumption limits for new cars made after 2020. The German chancellor Angela Merkel used a speech at this month’s Frankfurt motor show to say that strict limits would damage European carmakers’ competitiveness in global markets. Yet T&E’s eighth annual Cars & CO2 report shows that EU legislation is speeding up improvements to fuel efficiency, which in turn leads to drivers saving money at the fuel pump.

‘Bad blood’ over cars & CO2

The battle to set emissions limits from new cars for 2020 is becoming increasingly bitter. Lobbying by Germany on behalf of its two leading luxury car makers led to the issue being removed from the agenda of a meeting expected to approve a negotiated settlement - an unprecedented move. Germany’s tactics have caused one senior Commission official to express concern about the integrity of the EU decision-making process, while diplomats have talked about ‘rogue behaviour’ by Berlin creating ‘bad blood’ among ministers.

Multiple benefits from investing in advanced clean vehicle technology

The potential for environmental technology in the automotive industry to create jobs, reduce vehicle running costs and harmful emissions, and lessen Europe’s dependence on imported oil has been highlighted in a new report published last month. Various scenarios suggest carbon dioxide could be cut by 64-97% by 2050, while 0.5-1.1 million additional jobs could be created by 2030.

Makers of German gas-guzzling cars cheat fuel-economy tests more than all others

Gap between makers of gas-guzzlers and fuel-efficient cars is growingA new report says the average discrepancy between car CO2 emissions measured in official tests and what they emit on the roads was 7% a decade ago but is about 25% now. T&E says the findings also show the makers of gas guzzlers cheat motorists the most. This latest report comes as the Commission and MEPs are supporting calls for a new and more realistic testing regime, but some governments are trying to delay it.

Who’s taking the lead on lead times?

‘Lead time’ is an expression most people do not often hear, but you hear it all the time when you work on European green laws. Lead time is the idea that, when you set a new environmental standard for an industry, that industry needs to be given time to adapt. This all sounds fair and good, but in reality claiming that lead times are too short, or even too long, is a very popular tool for industry lobbyists to get rid of or delay laws, and that in turn makes lead time a controversial issue.

MEPs set standard for 2025 new cars

MEPs have sent a signal that car makers will have to meet fuel efficiency targets by both 2020 and 2025. Although the decision still has to be confirmed by the full European Parliament, EU member states and Commission, the move lays down a marker that the average new car should need less than three litres to drive 100km by 2025. Environmental groups have welcomed the vote, but say it does not go far enough to drive zero-emission cars into the market. 

Electric cars slow to catch on

An analysis of market forecasts for low-carbon cars suggests the take-up of electric vehicles will have a very slow take-up over the next decade. The analysis, Powering Ahead by the Ricardo-AEA consultancy, says the total number of plug-in hybrid and pure battery-powered cars being sold each year in the UK by 2020 will not exceed 200 000 and may even be as low as 40 000.

EU car emissions test ‘deceiving customers’

The gap between what cars emit in reality and what they are officially measured as emitting has grown to nearly a quarter, and continues to grow. A report by T&E says this gap and its growth is caused by car makers’ manipulation of testing procedures, and it explains how this is done. T&E says the current test regime is not fit for purpose, a new test should replace it by 2016, and follow-up checks should be carried out on cars to show their results are consistent with the official test results.

ICCT warns Commission on ‘weight v footprint’ debate

An international study has warned the EU that it risks getting an important detail wrong in plans to limit carbon dioxide emissions from new cars. The International Council for Clean Transportation (ICCT) says basing the EU’s emissions standards on the weight of a vehicle will make it much harder and more expensive to achieve targets and instead a vehicle’s ‘footprint’ should be the guiding factor. 

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