So big cars can be more fuel-efficient too!

September 16, 2008

Europe’s car makers are still failing to meet even their voluntary target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from new cars, says T&E’s third report on car makers’ average emissions, a report which also shows that big cars can make considerable savings too.

The average new car sold in the EU in 2007 was 1.7% more fuel-efficient than in 2006, but at 158 g/km it is still well outside the 140 g/km promised by the car makers in their voluntary agreement that ends this year.

The T&E report was first published in 2006. It broke new ground as Europe’s automotive industry guarded its data carefully, refusing to publish how each manufacturer was doing on CO2 emissions.

One striking finding from this year’s report is that BMW’s average car consumed 7.3% less fuel than in 2006, leading to a cut in average CO2 emissions from 184 to 170 g/km. The significance is that Germany’s car makers have been lobbying fiercely for more lenient targets because they generally make larger cars, so BMW’s performance shows that significant reductions can be achieved with larger models.

‘With the threat of legislation looming,’ said T&E director Jos Dings, ‘BMW has shown that even premium car markers can seriously reduce CO2. But the slow response of most makers shows the EU needs to keep up the pressure with challenging, long-term CO2 targets.’

The T&E report shows German car makers closing the gap on their French and Italian rivals, who have been the best performers in 2006 and 07. Daimler showed a 3.5% reduction, but more than half of that was due to selling off Chrysler which produces high-consuming vehicles, not to enhanced fuel efficiency in Daimler cars.


In a separate development, the French incentive tax system for new car purchases has surpassed all its expectations and is being extended to a range of other electrical goods.

The ‘ecological bonus-malus’ system was introduced in January this year and rewards vehicles that emit less than 130 g/km while penalising higher-consuming cars. In its first eight months, it has led to a 45% increase in sales of cars emitting less than 130 g/km and reducing France’s overall average by 8%. It has been so successful that it has cost the government €140 million.

Asked about the cost, France’s environment minister Jean-Louis Borloo said: ‘I’ve saved the planet with €100 million! We’re on our way to inventing a new economic model where the market price doesn’t just reward capital or labour but also natural capital.’

There was a rush to buy SUVs in France in the last weeks of 2007 before the bonus-malus system was introduced.

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