Press Releases

VDA: CO2 Regulation must provide effective boost for alternative drive trains

Berlin, 24 April 2013

Commenting on today’s vote by the Environment Committee of the European Parliament on the COregulation for passenger cars, the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) declared:

EU sets strictest limit value world-wide – alternative drive trains are necessary

“The limit of 95 g/km CO 2 for passenger cars in the year 2020, proposed the European Commission and the Environment Committee of the European Parliament, will be the world’s strictest limit value. In fact 95 g/km CO 2 corresponds to fuel consumption of less than 4 litres over 100 kilometres . T he existing CO 2  regulation means that by 2015 the European automotive industry must save an average of 30 grams of CO 2 over ten years. The 95-gram target now requires an even greater reduction within a shorter period, namely 35 grams in the period from 2015 to 2020.

The target is very demanding and cannot be achieved solely using the classical drive trains. Instead, cars with alternative drive train concepts will have to get a better foothold in the market. The regulation should therefore boost technological developments, and not hold back innovations and value-creation through rigid limit values. On the other hand, no requirements should be instituted now that go beyond the year 2020, because it is still not known whether more customers will choose vehicles with alternative power trains in the future. At present there is still no viable technical foundation for achieving longer-term targets.

The European economy and the European automotive markets will still feel the effects of the debt crisis for some time to come. In this uncertain economic environment, the rules must not be made excessive. For Europe to remain a strong automotive location, the regulation should be stimulating, not strangulating.

Promote environmentally friendly drive train technologies

For this reason it is right and proper that the Environment Committee wishes to continue in 2020 the super credits (already provided under the current CO regulation) for especially economical vehicles, which count extra within a manufacturer’s CO 2  balance. In an intelligent form they offer the automotive companies tangible incentives to launch particularly environmentally friendly and therefore research-intensive vehicles onto the market as early as possible, without burdening the state finances.

However the vote by the Environment Committee represents only a small improvement on the already hesitant recommendations of the Commission. The proposed multiplier of 1.5 will have too little effect. Other countries are pursuing a more determined path. In China, for example, especially efficient models count five-fold, and in the USA they count double. The CO 2 regulations in the USA and China also provide for the possibility of flexible application of saved CO 2 emissions over several years. The Environment Committee has spoken out against transferring unused super credits over time and so an opportunity is being missed to speed up the market launch of especially environmentally friendly models before the new limit comes into force. Furthermore, the capping of super credits for efficient vehicles, as envisaged in the proposal, would hold back innovation. On the one hand, the European legislators are embracing climate action and the promotion of innovation, and expecting the automotive industry to accelerate the development of alternative drive trains, but on the other they themselves are putting the brakes on innovation.

Give long-term target a valid foundation

A relatively high market penetration by vehicles with alternative drive trains is necessary even for the 95-gram target. However, as at present it is impossible to predict how this market will develop, it will be a few years before realistic later targets can be set for the period after 2020. The fact that today the Environment Committee has already fixed – without undertaking any cost-benefit estimation – an indicative target range of 68 to 78 grams per kilometre from 2025, represents an arbitrary decision and an over-regulation that jeopardises the competitiveness of the European industry.

Now the Council should take action

For this reason the European Council should take a realistic approach and make the necessary corrections to the fainthearted and bureaucratic decisions of the Commission and the European Parliament, to create a balance between the economy and action on climate. This includes not setting a limit value for 2025, plus stepping up the super credits for especially efficient models within a manufacturer’s fleet average.

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