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Cars climate brief #1:Why CO2 from new cars could drop by only 2% by 2029

This brief is the first of a series of short analytical pieces in which T&E will share fresh insights related to the revision of the car CO₂ standards. The current EU-wide car CO₂ targets are not bad on paper: they require a reduction in CO₂ emissions from new cars of 15% from 2025, and 37.5% from 2030 compared to 2021. Yet, a deeper look at the design of the regulation shows that as little as a 2% cut can actually be required between 2025 and 2029, or in the next decade. To begin with, carmakers who choose to ignore the voluntary electric car sales benchmark merely need to reduce their emissions by 6% instead of 15%. This is due to three flexibilities: CO₂ allowance for heavier vehicles shaves off 2 percentage points (pp); Allowance for eco-innovations shaves off a further 2 pp; and The transition to a new test opens the door for another 5 pp to be knocked off. Then, for carmakers who overshoot the rather unambitious EV sales benchmark, a further 5 pp is reduced via what is known as the “ZLEV bonus”. Read this short brief to understand how the 15% reduction on paper becomes a mere 2% effective reduction.

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Spain attempts to put auto industry on greener, more competitive track, but SUVs and fossil gas block the way

The auto industry rescue plan presented by the Spanish government today is a tentative step to decarbonise the auto sector and boost electromobility, green group Transport & Environment has said. Having increased its budget to support electric vehicles from €65 million to €100 million, Spain draws from the positive examples of Germany and France in their auto recovery plans. However, €250 million will also be provided in purchase incentives for polluting combustion engine vehicles, delaying the switch to emissions-free vehicles and impeding carmakers from meeting their EU car CO2 targets.

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España intenta orientar la industria de la automoción hacia un camino más limpio y competitivo pero el intento es bloqueado por los SUVs y el gas vehicular de origen fósil

El plan de rescate a la industria de la automoción presentado hoy por el Gobierno de España es un intento de descarbonizar el sector y de impulsar la movilidad eléctrica, según el grupo ecologista Transport & Environment. España se ha inspirado de los ejemplos positivos de los planes de rescate a la industria del automóvil en Francia y Alemania, pues el presupuesto para vehículos eléctricos ha subido de €65 millones a €100 millones. Sin embargo, €250 millones van destinados a incentivos para la compra de vehículos contaminantes con motor de combustión interna, retrasando así el cambio a vehículos sin emisiones e impidiendo a los fabricantes de automóviles cumplir con la normativa de emisiones de CO2 de la Unión Europea.

Palm oil diesel factories in Europe

No justification for ‘licence to pollute’ tolerance margin

Testing of air pollution from cars in real-driving conditions is continuing to improve, according to the EU’s research institute. The gap between NOx emissions recorded in lab tests and on-road tests is, at most, 32% in the worst cases, it found. T&E said it sends a strong message to the European Commission to keep its promise and finally remove the ‘licence to pollute’ given to carmakers in the middle of the Dieselgate scandal.

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Court to test allegations of a new VW diesel scandal

A German television company has unearthed documentation that suggests Volkswagen is involved in a new ‘Dieselgate’ scandal. The documents allegedly show that VW has put software in the Euro 6 engine series which replaced the Dieselgate Euro 5 engine series found to have manipulated emissions. VW denies the claim. The allegations came as T&E published data on the fourth anniversary of Dieselgate which shows the number of dirty diesels is reaching record levels on Europe’s roads.

The poisonous legacy of Dieselgate

There are now 51 million dirty diesel cars on EU’s roads

The number of dirty diesel cars and vans [1] on European roads has reached 51 million, four years after the Volkswagen scandal was exposed, a new report by green NGO Transport & Environment finds. The analysis shows an increase by 18% over the past 12 months and a 74% rise since 2016. Considering that Volkswagen is alleged to have installed defeat devices on more cars than thought, the number of dirty diesels might actually be higher.

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Electric car ‘hatchet job’ debunked

A study claiming that electric vehicle produce more carbon emissions than a diesel car has been promptly debunked by academics and experts in Germany, where it was published last month. The Institute for Economic Research (Ifo) was roundly criticised over its findings which were founded on a relatively high weighting of coal generation in Germany’s power mix.

Gap to produce sufficient numbers of EVs to comply with the law in 2020

Watch out for fake EVs, national regulators told

Carmakers can exploit loopholes in the EU’s new CO2 emissions targets to push sales of fake plug-in hybrid cars over EVs with no tailpipe emissions, T&E has warned. The law credits manufacturers for selling EVs but leaves room for gaming. This could allow carmakers to supply half of all the ´zero and low-emission’ cars needed to comply with stricter CO2 limits with fake ‘electric’ cars.

Gap to produce sufficient numbers of EVs to comply with the law in 2020

Have carmakers been caught in Europe’s biggest corporate scandal?

A massive cartel involving five leading German carmakers has been alleged, and, if true, the early indications are that it could result in the highest antitrust fines in EU history – totalling more than €5 billion. Preliminary investigations by the European Commission have concluded that German companies colluded to delay the development of clean emissions technology. T&E says that, if proven, the findings should lead to more than just fines against the guilty companies.