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. 

The European Parliament’s Environment Committee was voting earlier this month to confirm the proposed limit of 95 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre for 2020. This equates to a car needing officially 3.9 litres of fuel per 100km (or doing 74 miles per gallon). According to Commission estimates, the 2020 targets of 95g for cars and 147g for vans will lead to fuel savings of 160 million tonnes of oil equivalent in the period 2020-30. 

But the committee also voted for a set of standards for 2025 that would bring emissions down to 68-78 g/km, equivalent to just under 3l per 100km (89 mpg). In a compromise, MEPs accepted a system of ‘supercredits’ to count ultra-low carbon vehicles more than once, but capped the total resulting weakening of the regulation to 2.5g/km. . MEPs also rejected a proposal from industry for further weakening which would have allowed credits to be saved (banked) and used in a future year. 

In other votes, the Committee tightened procedures for testing cars and rejected proposals that would have opened new loopholes for alternatively fuelled vehicles and so-called ‘eco-innovations’ (technologies that produce emissions on the road but not in the test). 

The Committee’s vote is expected to meet opposition from some member states, notably Germany. The German car industry includes a high number of luxury manufacturers, and the German government has been seeking protection for its car makers. But the MEP acting as ‘rapporteur’ for this legislation is a German from Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat party, and he described the vote as ‘a real revolution’. 

T&E’s clean vehicles manager Greg Archer said: ‘This vote is a step in the right direction but still a compromise. This package of standards, if confirmed, will reduce oil waste, fight climate change, and create high-tech jobs. In addition, it will help Europe maintain its competitive advantage in low-emissions engine technology, an advantage that would be threatened if member states water this package down. MEPs have also been wise to improve the ways cars are tested, and they have set a helpful limit on the amount of supercredits that can be used. But we really must work towards 2.5l per 100km by 2025 if we’re to stimulate the shift towards zero-carbon cars.’ 

Europe’s car maker umbrella association ACEA responded by saying the 2025 standard was ‘a political target’ and ignored the fact that ‘sales and jobs in the sector have been declining for over six years’. Yet according to ACEA’s own information, the EU produced nearly 16 million cars in 2011, back to the levels recorded pre-crisis, as a result of strong exports in a global market growing at 5% a year. 

The Irish presidency hopes to finalise the law before the summer break.

  • T&E has produced a video that is available on YouTube, showing that the average European driver will save €647 a year on fuel bills compared with current vehicles if flexibilities in the current law are eliminated by 2020. The video 'Stop the Oil Waste from Europe’s Cars' can be seen here.