Rhein on Energy and Climate

Propelled by EU car emission standards, the European motor car industry has achieved impressive gains in fuel efficiency during the last few years.

In 2007 the average new car emitted 160 g C02 per km; by 2015 the emissions will have to be down to 130 g and in 2020 to 95 g.

As the industry needs to be fixed a long time in advance on emission standards in order to adapt, the EU is again in the process of defining even stricter limits for 2025, most likely around 70 g per km, corresponding to a gasoline consumption of only 3 litre per 100 km.

The USA has already fixed its 2025 standards at a revolutionary low level of 4.3 litre gasoline per 100 km for cars and light vans combined, the first time that the USA is ahead of EU in a crucial sector of energy and climate policy.

Most member countries,the EP and the majority f car manufacturers seem to be in favour of stricter emission standards.

Only the three major German producers -Audi, BMW and Daimler – voice vehement opposition. Because of their reliance on luxury cars and SUVs they find it difficult to comply with a 70 g C02/litre emission standard. They will therefore have to pay a “penalty” of € 95 for every gram exceeding the standard. Assuming their average car to emit 100 g C0/km in 2025 it will become € 3000 more expensive, corresponding to 3-10 per cent of the sales price.

We should not pity those who can afford to spend up to €100 000 for a luxury car or SUV that need much more space on streets and highways and consume up to three times as much gasoline as fuel-efficient vehicles.

The personal letter the President of the German car makers association has written to Chancellor Merkel early May asking her to intervene in Brussels should therefore not deviate the German government from the overriding objective of raising fuel efficiency and reducing C02 emissions. On the contrary, it should advise the industry to focus more on fuel efficiency rather than on increasingly superfluous luxury gadgets.

EU policy must aim at the concerns of the majority of citizens who need cars with low gasoline consumption. The tiny minority of citizens that can afford to ride two ton vehicles consuming more than 10 litre/100 km should be content with being able to us such “prestige monsters” at an extra price of a few thousand Euro. The majority of citizens will be more than happy to be able to ride cars that consume only 3-4 litre in 15 years from now.

Eberhard Rhein, Brussels

Author :


  1. Mr E Rhein:

    I like the idea.

    What about the use of Biofuels in this? Suppose i convert my fuel of usage to the Renewable Fue Butanol, which is made from waste? Would I still be penalised?

    May I also suggest another option that is also related to the original premise. A registration Tax that is rated against Power Output, and collected by the EU!

  2. Sir:

    I have done the calculation and based it upon the average fuel as gasoline, and assumed this to be 97% Heptane to 3% Octane.

    As 3 litres of gasoline has a mass of 2400 grammes:


    as the Carbon content represents roughly 84% of the total mass of the fuel:


    as Carbon has an atomic mass of 12 (say)


    as Carbon Dioxide has a molecular mass of 44


    the total mass of Carbon Dioxide produced from the 3 litres of gasoline

    is: 2400 (grammes) x 0.84 (carbon ratio in gasoline) x 44 (mass of Carbon Dioxide)

    = 7392 grammes of Carbon Dioxide.

    So that from the use of 3 litres of Gasoline we get 7392 grammes of Carbon Dioxide.

    Which means that for Gasoline we are correct.

    BUT: what about DIESEL?

    Is there a different standard?

    I think that we would all like to know here as Diesel is a much denser Carbon based Fuel!

    I also agree with the idea that biofuels are an issue..

  3. Isn;t it worth considering the event Mr E Rhein wherein we all have our vehicles converted to run of Biofuels?

    Firstly the issue about Diesel (from Oil) has not been resolved. I can appreciate the fact that with Diesel made from oil being a chemical compound that has twice as many atoms of Carbon in its make-up and therefore cannot have the same CO2 emissions even if it were to be consumed at 3 litres per 100 kilometres. An explanation from the DG would be very useful.

    Likewise the use of Ethanol (made from Waste which I can make for €urocents 25 per litre) or Butanol (which I can also make for €urocents 26 perlitre) has also been raised.

    I can run my car on 100% Ethanol (albeit with a 0.13% denaturant) and I can also run my Diesel car on 100% pure Butanol.

    As these are completely Renewable Fuels they cannot be counted.

Comments are closed.