Thomas Goettle, PA automotive expert, is quoted in a feature on how Germany can remain a leading automotive country.
EU regulation requires carmakers to meet a target of 95g CO₂/km for vehicle fleets by 2020. However, according to recent forecasts, German premium car manufacturers, such as BMW and Daimler, are likely to miss their target, while carmakers producing small and mid-sized vehicles, such as Renault, Toyota and PSA, will face less problems.
“Daimler risks a penalty of up to half a billion euro based on forecast emissions of 104g CO₂/km in 2020,” explains Thomas. He goes on to set out three areas where action is needed to resolve the problem. "First: cars need to become more efficient, whether by incorporating hybrid technology, more economical combustion engines or lighter-weight components. Second: the way CO₂ emissions are calculated needs to change – highly efficient cars with emissions below 50g CO₂/km should attract ‘super credits’ until 2015 and again until 2020. Third: to increase the impact of the super credits, there needs to be more incentives for drivers to choose electric vehicles, whether these take the form of tax breaks or rights to park or drive in city areas."
Thomas warns, however, that based on the number of electric vehicles sold so far, super credits will not be enough to solve the problem. “A more realistic option is [for the EU] to take a more incremental approach to targets for reducing emissions, as it has been done with the 2015 target. This could give carmakers until 2023 – instead of 2020 – to get 100 per cent of their fleet on target for 95g CO₂/km. And set a new target to get 60 per cent of the fleet to this level by 2019, and then increase this annually by 10 per cent.”
Thomas also comments on implementation of the new global driving test cycle, WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Duty Test Procedure), which should give a more realistic picture of CO₂ emissions and fuel consumption than the current NEFZ (New European test cycle). “The WLTP will reflect acceleration and highway journeys as well as other sources of fuel consumption, like air conditioning or infotainment systems, more realistically,” he explains. “This would increase CO₂ emissions by at least 10 per cent. At the moment all calculations follow the NEFZ. A sudden change would mean car makers would be unable to achieve the CO₂ target, hence implementation of the WLTP is unlikely to happen before 2020.“
Finally, Thomas explains that focusing on reducing the weight of each car by using lighter materials would be a more promising route to lowering CO₂ emissions. Changes to the product portfolio will also help: “BMW will launch further variants of 1-series and Mini will launch front drive and new 3-cylinder engines for the platform below 3-series until 2017. Mercedes will produce various derivatives of the new A-class, B-class and Smart. This will create a high volume of vehicles with low emissions and improve the fleets’ CO₂ balance,” he says.