• Don’t weaken vans limits, says T&E after car industry ‘exaggeration’

    T&E says its latest figures monitoring the efforts of car makers to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from new cars show the industry exaggerated the difficulty of reducing emissions when the latest CO2 reduction target was agreed in 2008. Toyota has almost reached the target six years early, with other car makers not far behind. T&E says the figures are a warning to MEPs and ministers that they should not water down proposed limits for emissions from vans which are currently going through the EU legislative process.

    [mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]In its annual survey of car manufacturers’ progress on reducing CO2 emissions from new models, five companies achieved more than 3% reductions by using new technology (Toyota, Suzuki, Daimler, Ford and Mazda). Three makers (Hyundai, Suzuki and Fiat) achieved the same as a result of selling smaller vehicles, many of which were subsidised by so-called ‘scrappage’ schemes. (Suzuki achieved 3% reductions using both means.)

    The EU’s emissions target is for the average new car to emit no more than 130 grams of CO2 per kilometre by 2015, but this is a target that was weaker than originally proposed, following lobbying by the car industry. In the mid-1990s, the Commission proposed a 120g target to be achieved by 2005; this was later watered down to 120g by 2012 and subsequently 130 g/km by 2012, but even that was delayed by three years as the car makers said it was timewise not feasible.

    T&E director Jos Dings said: ‘Three years ago the car industry said it could not deliver car CO2 targets on time but is now set to achieve them years ahead of schedule. Now the same industry is saying van CO2 limits cannot be met – it’s time the credibility of these claims is questioned.’

    Some automotive analysts have said the overall 5.1% reduction in CO2 emissions during 2009 is due more to the global economic crisis that forced customers to buy more fuel-efficient cars, than to technological improvements. But T&E’s findings challenge that assumption. They conclude that more than half of the reduction in 2009, or close to a 3% improvement in average efficiency, was achieved through better technology, rather than through sales of smaller cars.

    Dings added: ‘Our data show that last year’s big improvement in fuel efficiency was not just a one-off caused by a shift to smaller cars – car makers are adding fuel-saving technologies. So the trend of reduced CO2 emissions is structural and will therefore continue when the market returns to normal. The EU’s CO2 regulation is clearly working.’

    Parts of the car industry appear to agree. A spokesperson for the British car makers and traders association SMMT admitted to The Times newspaper that its members had overestimated the difficulty of cutting emissions and had underestimated how quickly the industry would respond to the end of a voluntary target and the start of a mandatory one. ‘Having these limits imposed focused attention and encouraged everyone to do whatever they could to accelerate development,’ the spokesperson said.

    The latest figures on CO2 emissions maker-by-maker are available in a report How clean are Europe’s cars? from the T&E website.

    – As part of this year’s survey, T&E has developed a motion chart to show how each car manufacturer has performed over recent years. The point at which the EU’s first obligatory emissions limit was agreed marks a change in behaviour by makers, in some cases dramatically. Animated chart showing distance to EU CO2 targets of major carmakers

    – More than 80% of respondents to a survey carried out by the German car magazine Auto Bild say they support speed limiters for new vans. After reporting on the EU’s proposed legislation limiting emissions from vans, and adding that the Commission was opposed to speed limiters being made obligatory, the magazine asked its readers to say whether they supported the Commission’s line. More than four fifths of those who responded said they supported limiters – this in a country without speed limits on many motorways.