Emis­sions im­pos­si­ble?

Pro­posed EU tar­gets for the CO2 emis­sions of new cars are too strict, claim chiefs


Anal­y­sis of new CO2 tar­gets

Ear­lier this month, Eumem­ber gov­ern­ments agreed that by 2030 car mak­ers sell­ing in the re­gion would have to cut CO2 emis­sions (im­prove fuel econ­omy) from the cars they sell by 35% from 2021 lev­els. The cut also needs to be 15% lower by 2025.

That tar­get was al­ready tough at 95g/km of CO2, but that would fall to around 62g/km by 2030. Only by elec­tri­fy­ing a good pro­por­tion of their ve­hi­cles will car mak­ers achieve that.

There’s still some wran­gling be­tween the gov­ern­ments, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion law­mak­ing body and the elected Euro­pean par­lia­ment be­fore it goes to a fi­nal vote, likely in Jan­uary next year, but it’s not ex­pected to be wa­tered down.

What we don’t know is whether the UK will be in­cluded in those tar­gets once it has left the EU. The UK did par­tic­i­pate in the Oc­to­ber vote and, along with 16 other coun­tries, ac­tu­ally pushed for a tougher cut of 40%.

Given the UK govern­ment’s ap­par­ent zeal for want­ing to move to­wards elec­tri­fi­ca­tion (not­with­stand­ing its re­cently an­nounced end to plug-in hy­brid grants), we should as­sume that the UK is ei­ther part of the EU tar­get or at least op­er­at­ing in par­al­lel.

The car mak­ers were none too happy. Their Euro­pean lob­by­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion, ACEA, had pre­vi­ously sug­gested 20% as be­ing a fair drop from 2021 lev­els, and only then con­di­tional on there be­ing a “real mar­ket up­take” on elec­tric cars.

In­stead, the tar­get is nearly twice as tough and in­cludes a quota of 35% of zero- and low-emis­sion cars by 2030. Car mak­ers can re­lax their CO2 tar­get by meet­ing a bench­mark share of low-emis­sion ve­hi­cles.

ACEA sec­re­tary gen­eral Erik Jon­naert warned it would im­pact jobs as de­mand for lo­cally built com­bus­tion en­gines dropped and said the pace of change was too fast. “It would es­sen­tially force the in­dus­try into a dra­matic trans­for­ma­tion in record time,” he said, which sug­gests the sweep­ing prom­ises of elec­tri­fi­ca­tion made by Europe’s car mak­ers aren’t as ad­vanced as they have been claim­ing.

The EU wants to both cut CO2 lev­els but also re­turn Europe to the fore­front of au­to­mo­tive in­no­va­tion. An as­sess­ment into the likely im­pact of the CO2 re­duc­tion pub­lished by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion last year said re­duc­tion stan­dards have been a “fun­da­men­tal tool” to push for in­no­va­tion in low-car­bon tech­nolo­gies. “But to­day, the EU is no longer the clear leader in this race, with the US, Ja­pan, South Korea and China mov­ing ahead very quickly,” it said. The as­sess­ment also con­cluded that the fuel sav­ings would out­weigh the ex­tra cost of elec­tri­fi­ca­tion.

One in­ter­est­ing de­vel­op­ment was that the EU gov­ern­ments voted to keep the so-called

The UK and 16 other coun­tries pushed for a tougher cut of 40%

dero­ga­tion, or re­laxed tar­gets, for man­u­fac­tur­ers sell­ing fewer than 300,000 ve­hi­cles an­nu­ally in Europe. This helps Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), as well as Suzuki, Mazda, Honda and Mit­subishi, and stays de­spite a rec­om­men­da­tion from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion that it be dropped for the 2030 tar­gets.

It was saved af­ter lob­by­ing from Slo­vakia (where JLR has its new plant) and Hun­gary (home of Suzuki’s man­u­fac­tur­ing in Europe) but, in­ter­est­ingly, the UK didn’t lobby for it. “The UK fo­cus was on try­ing to get an am­bi­tious pro­posal rather than try to push for dero­ga­tion,” said Greg Archer, direc­tor of clean ve­hi­cles at Euro­pean green pres­sure group Trans­port & En­vi­ron­ment.

The dero­ga­tion is an enor­mous help to JLR, which needs to hit a CO2 tar­get of 132g/km by 2021.

COST OF TOUGHER CO2 TAR­GETS OVER THE CAR’S LIFE­TIME To­tal sav­ings €802 €903 €878 €565

Cars like the I-pace EV will be vi­tal for Jaguar to meet CO2 tar­gets

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