Andy Sharman | financial times | 23 November 2015
Hyundai and Kia are on course to miss European targets for carbon emissions after the Korean carmakers’ average figures went into reverse last year, industry research shows.
The sister companies’ fleet-wide carbon dioxide emissions were higher in 2014 than the year before, making them the only big carmakers to lose ground in the battle to meet stiff regulatory targets by the end of the decade, according to data from PA Consulting.
Carmakers’ emissions are under intense scrutiny after the diesel scandal at Volkswagen, the German carmaker that admitted to using software to manipulate laboratory tests for nitrogen oxides.
Even before those revelations in September, Hyundai and Kia had been in the spotlight having last year settled claims in the US for overstating fuel economy, which equates to CO₂ emissions.
The European Union has some of the most stringent environmental targets and wants carmakers to achieve average emissions of 95 grammes of CO₂ per kilometre by 2020-21, though this depends on changes to a now discredited testing regime. Carmakers face fines of €95 per gramme of CO₂ above the limit, multiplied by the number of cars they sell in 2020.
The CO₂ emissions challenge: how can carmakers meet the 2021 targets for CO₂ emissions?
“Hyundai and Kia’s performance raises particular concerns — they were the only manufacturers to move from being close to meeting the 2021 target to being forecast to miss it by some margin,” said Thomas Goettle, automotive expert at PA. “Their petrol and diesel engines are not as efficient as their competitors, emitting up to 10g more CO₂ than Ford. They also have no hybrids or plug-in hybrids in their fleet.”
He added that Hyundai and Kia sold a large proportion of higher-value cars with bigger engines.
PA, which works with many of the leading carmakers and auto parts suppliers, calculated the companies’ 2021 targets by evaluating the average weight and CO₂ emissions of vehicles sold.
Hyundai and Kia went from 129.8g of CO₂ per km in 2013 to 130.5g in 2014. They forecast that by 2021 Hyundai and Kia will be at 98.8g, versus a target of 94.3g.
Both Hyundai and Kia — which is controlled by Hyundai through a 34 per cent stake — said they were on track to meet the targets, and emphasised plans to introduce alternative fuel vehicles.
Hyundai, maker of the i35 hydrogen-powered vehicle, said it was the leader in zero-emissions fuel-cell technology. It also plans to bring in a new model in 2016 with full electric and hybrid options and intends to replace 70 per cent of its engine line-up with more efficient equivalents.
Kia said it would continue to refine its conventional engines, while “substantially” increasing its production of electric cars and hybrids, such as the upcoming Niro saloon.
Among other manufacturers, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the Renault-Nissan alliance, Toyota and Volvo are all on track to hit their targets, according to PA.
VW, BMW and Jaguar Land Rover — which has the highest CO₂ emissions of any large carmaker — are on course to miss by some margin, though each has said it is committed to meeting the targets.