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European carmakers miles away from EU CO₂ emission targets

PA’s Thomas Goettle, an automotive expert, has been quoted in an article in Energiwatch discussing PA’s 2016 CO₂ emissions report. According to the report, only four out of the top 12 European carmakers will be able to reach the EU’s CO₂ emissions targets by 2021. Previously, Fiat Chrysler seemed able to meet the targets but their performance has declined drastically and they are now likely to miss their target.

Thomas explains: “Fiat Chrysler shows the difficult balance between profit and emissions. Fiat could easily meet the targets but due to their merger with Chrysler, they are facing major challenges. Chrysler has increasingly strong sales in Europe but these are typically big cars with a high consumption. This, combined with an outdated engine technology, means their performance has declined drastically.”

The article outlines how if the carmakers fail to reach the emission targets, they risk major fines. BMW will have to budget for around €350 million in penalty payments; Fiat Chrysler €600 million and Volkswagen around €1 billion. 

“We understand that carmakers are working hard to reduce emissions but several initiatives haven’t had the desired effect. This means only four of the carmakers will reach the targets. But with EU plans to tighten test cycles in 2017, this could mean none of the carmakers will pass the new test conditions,” says Thomas.

The carmakers race to 2021 has started

Download report

Thomas explains that to reach the targets, a number of carmakers have focused on electrical vehicles. But in most cases this has not had the intended effect: “BMW was among the first large carmakers to focus on electrical vehicles and launched the i3 model some years ago. But the sale of the model didn’t unfold as planned – the buyers have preferred larger models with conventional engines. Moreover, BMW’s focus on electrical vehicles has kept resources away from the development of more traditional engines, which is partly why BMW receives a lower ranking on the list. In contrast, Daimler hasn’t focused particularly on investing in electrical vehicles but has spent many resources on more efficient engines, which is paying off.” 

According to Thomas, the success of Tesla has made carmakers such as Daimler, Mercedes and BMW realise that consumers want to buy luxury electrical vehicles as long as design and performance are attractive. 

“From now and until 2021, electrical vehicles will not reach a volume that can help car producers reach the targets. Consumers simply haven’t adapted the technology and the lower price on gas has only increased the interest in bigger vehicle alternatives. I believe, however, that electrical vehicles will gain a larger spread in the coming years, and that it is the technology of the future. But it requires that we see a breakthrough in the distance the cars are able to drive on electricity; this requires a range of up to 500 kilometers or more,” concludes Thomas.

Download a copy of the CO₂ ranking report

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