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German car industry may be unable to reach CO2 targets

Søren Springborg

10 October 2013

Thomas Goettle, PA transport expert, explains how the German car industry is struggling to meet CO₂ targets.

The article explains that the European vehicle fleet needs to reduce its emission of CO₂ to only 95 grams per kilometer by 2020 – however, that target may be difficult to reach. The German government wants to extend the deadline to 2024, as it seems more difficult for German car producers to meet the target. The article picks up on PA’s study and quotes that Volkswagen will be able to reduce emissions to 100 grams per kilometer, BMW to 103 grams and Mercedes to104 grams.

“Car manufacturers produce different types of vehicles. German carmakers produce larger and heavier vehicles with more powerful engines than the EU average, and therefore it is a bigger challenge for them to reach the 95 grams than it is for manufacturers of smaller cars. It’s already a challenge to reach 95 grams – on average we are talking about a reduction of 32 per cent by 2020,” says Thomas.

Thomas adds that reducing CO₂ emissions from conventional cars will happen step by step: “Reducing the vehicle’s weight by 100 kilos can save seven grams of CO₂ per km driven. So carmakers must develop intelligent design, where weight is one of the key parameters. Another important area is down-sizing the engines, where you get the same performance out of a smaller engine, or getting more performance out of existing but more efficient engines. Again, there may be a lot to gain for carmakers in this area.”

According to the article, the fact that the German government suggests a gradual reduction of CO₂ emission is no surprise. “The German government wants to give car manufacturers more time. In PA’s view the EU should adopt an incremental approach to the 2020 target, as it has 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 95 grams CO₂/km, and set a new target to get 70 per cent of their fleet to this level by 2020,” says Thomas.

Focusing on EVs and other non-fossil technologies is not sufficient, according to Thomas: “One step in the right direction would be an increased focus on electric cars. But to think that Germany can reach one million electric cars by 2020 is very optimistic. The electric car requires very favorable conditions before it takes off. This happened in Norway, and we can learn a lot from the Norwegian model – here Tesla recently outperformed VW Golf sales. But the electric car will most likely be second choice for some time to come, and it is therefore necessary to continue reducing emissions from conventional gasoline and diesel engines.”


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