Europe's premium carmakers still have significant ground to make up in the race to bring down carbon emissions and avoid billions of euros in fines from Brussels.
A report has set out the progress being made by the top 13 carmakers in Europe by sales, and found that Germany's big three - Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW - are on track to miss minimum fuel economy targets set by the European Union. The EU has some of the most stringent environmental targets in the world and wants carmakers to achieve average emissions of 95 grammes of carbon dioxide per kilometre by 2020-21.
The report, produced by PA Consulting, shows the challenge European manufacturers face in cutting emissions amid a surge in demand for heavy sport utility vehicles and limited appetite for hybrid and electric cars. Thomas Goettle, automotive expert at PA Consulting says:
"The buying patterns are shifting to bigger and heavier cars with more horsepower at the moment."
The study worked out the company-specific 2021 targets for the carmakers by calculating the average weight and CO₂ emissions of vehicles sold between 2007 and 2013, factoring in the "supercredits" that manufacturers receive for selling electric vehicles.
PA Consulting then forecast sales for the period 2014-21, based on the company's insight into the various manufacturers' plans for electrification, engine optimisation and weight reduction.
Carmakers such as Renault, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Toyota and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles were found to be on-track to meet the fleet-average targets, while Ford, General Motors and Nissan were close to achieving the objectives.
But the three German brands were each set to miss the goals by 4g or more.
Were that trajectory to continue, the carmakers would face crippling fines of €95 for each gramme in excess of the target, multiplied by their annual sales in Europe. That means VW would face a fine of up to €1bn in the first year after the objectives are phased in.
"It's not so much they worry about the fine, it's more the damage to their reputation and prestige," said Thomas Goettle, the lead author of the report.
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