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CO₂ regulation: booming SUV sales cause problems for carmakers

Margret Hucko | Spiegel online | 5 February 2016

Read the article in German

Thomas Goettle, PA automotive expert, has been quoted in an article in Spiegel Online discussing how German carmarkers are struggling to meet the EU’s emissions limits – due to be implemented in 2021. The regulation will see fuel consumption capped at 4.1 litres of petrol per 100km or 3.6 litres for diesel.

The EU is planning to fine manufacturers €95 for every gram of CO₂ above the company-specific target and a new report by PA reveals that, based on current sales forecasts, BMW needs to budget for around €100 million in penalty payments; and VW around €1 billion. While PSA (Peugeot Citroën), FCA (Fiat Chrysler), Renault-Nissan, Toyota and Volvo look set to reach their manufacturer-specific targets in this year’s annual rankings, GM, Ford and Daimler are likely to miss them.

Every year, PA ranks the top carmakers in Europe according to their performance against the EU’s CO₂ emission targets. BMW’s latest results (with the manufacturer coming in as eleventh place) are due to the company's high sales for its heavy SUVs and the low take-up of its hybrid and electric offering (0.1% and 1% of sales respectively). Daimler is a new entry into the top 10, showing that the investments in reducing weight on new models and downsizing motors in the new C class have had a noticeable effect. The sales success of Daimler’s smaller A class and the Smart have also contributed to this progress. What is more, the Mercedes-maker is ahead of other German manufacturers when it comes to putting cars with alternative motor technology on the road. Hybrid and electric vehicles now make up around 1% each of Daimler’s new sales, with gas motors adding another 0.4%.

The CO2 Emissions Challenge Report

The CO₂ emissions challenge: how can carmakers meet the 2021 targets for CO₂ emissions?

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The rankings also reveal differences in the strategies being pursued by manufacturers to avoid fines. Toyota is placing an even bigger emphasis on hybrid technology, while German carmakers have been concentrating on optimising diesel and petrol motors. Daimler, meanwhile, will be increasingly focused on plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles.

The current New European Driving Cycle, which is the basis for the carbon targets, stands accused of not accurately reflecting real-world driving styles – and therefore giving unrealistic consumption and emissions readings. The new World Harmonised Light Duty Vehicles Test Procedure would offer more accurate data and this extension to the legislative framework will make emissions measurement even more of a priority during engine development. Measures to reduce pollution will have to be applied at every point on the engine map - all the while taking into account ambient temperature, battery power charge, driver behaviour and driving conditions. Thomas says: “If this test cycle is implemented in 2017, not a single manufacturer will reach its specific CO₂ target by 2020/2021.”

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