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