The European Parliament has called for lowering of CO2 emissions of new passenger cars by 40 percent from 2021 to 2030. VDA says this proposal disregards technical and economic feasibility.
In a vote taken by the European Parliament on the regulation of CO2 emissions of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles up to 2030, a majority of members voted for the proposal of the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. This proposal specifies that passenger-car manufacturers should lower the CO2 emissions of new cars by 40 percent from 2021 to 2030 and meet an interim target of minus 20 percent by 2025. The same targets for CO2 reduction will also apply to light commercial vehicles. In addition, the Parliament approved the de facto introduction of a quota for zero-emission vehicles.
Bernhard Mattes, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), sharply criticized the decision: "Disregarding technical and economic feasibility, the European Parliament has thus set totally unrealistic targets that cannot be met within this time frame. The ambitious proposal of the European Commission would already have ensured the achievement of the EU climate targets. The Parliament, in contrast, has overshot the mark and thus jeopardized value creation and employment in many European countries. Lost jobs are to be offset by programs financed by penalties on manufacturers. The EU Parliament has thus shown that it knowingly accepts massive job losses while foregoing economically sound incentives which leave all technological options open and also lower CO2 emissions. The German automotive industry now strongly hopes that positions embodying sound judgment and a sense of proportion will gain the upper hand in the upcoming negotiations between the Council, the Parliament and the Commission. The EU also bears responsibility for industrial full employment in Europe."
The EU Commission plans – in contrast to the parliamentary decision – a reduction of CO2 emissions of the European new-car fleet of 15 percent by 2025 and of 30 percent bis 2030. "Today it is already more than doubtful whether these limit values can be met. The prerequisite for this is that electromobility, including charging infrastructure, distinctly picks up speed Europe-wide very soon. The existence of a decent infrastructure in a few EU states is not sufficient. Whether or not electric automobiles gain broad-based customer acceptance depends on numerous factors, including many on which the automotive industry has only a limited influence, such as battery costs, charging infrastructure, fuel prices and publics-sector procurement. Electromobility is a task shared by industry, the political sphere, and consumers. When Brussels sets demanding CO2-reduction targets, it must simultaneously lay the foundation for the success of alternative powertrains; this has not happened so far," Mattes emphasized.
He continued: "Although the European Parliament proposes stringent requirements, it has failed to convincingly explain how the transition to climate-friendly mobility can be accomplished EU-wide within this short time frame. Demands of this kind are in contradiction to the political goal of promoting growth and employment in Europe."
Mattes also sharply criticized the proposals for setting fleet-wide CO2 limits for light commercial vehicles. "Targets that are already not realistic for passenger cars are totally out of reach for light commercial vehicles. The length of the development and product cycles for commercial vehicles – now about 10 years – is distinctly longer. Because low fuel consumption is always a decisive argument for buying an automobile, moreover, the market itself works toward increased CO2 efficiency."
The German automotive industry is aware of its responsibility for the global climate and makes huge investments – totaling 40 billion euros in the next three years alone – in R&D on alternative powertrains. Fuel consumption and thus CO2 emissions have declined steadily. The German passenger-car models accounting for today's new registrations use less fuel than the models put on the market in 2007.
However, past successes will not necessarily continue in the future: the technologies that have helped to lower consumption so far are becoming increasingly complex as the degree of optimization rises. To achieve large advances in CO2 reduction after 2020 similar to those recorded to date, optimization of the internal combustion engine will no longer be sufficient.