BRUSSELS - European automakers want the European Commission to pay up to half the cost of a research project into cutting CO2 emissions.
Eucar, the automotive research organization for 13 companies, is already involved in 70 projects. However, this is the first project proposed because of pending legislation. Other research is undertaken in response to existing legislation.
The Eucar proposal does not specify an amount requested, but it is considered a major project. The other 70 projects of the European Council for Automotive Research and Development total $225 million, and on each the European Commission provides up to half the funding, said Keith France, secretary general of Eucar.
'As pollution-reduction rules get tougher, life for the industry gets harder, especially with the demands of comfort and safety adding weight to cars,' said France.
'The EU believes that with known technology, and at little cost, the car industry can improve fuel economy by 30 percent,' he said.
The proposed study will explore a number of technologies, such as advanced direct-injection diesel engines and the use of natural gas as a fuel. France said these technologies would be examined with the eyes of scientists rather than politicians.
Lobbying is left to ACEA, the industry association of the automakers.
The European Commission will set its next four-year research budget in 1998.
Getting government financial support is not a prerequisite for a Eucar program, said France. He said that asking the EC for funds after a project has been underway for a year or more 'only adds to the program's credibility.'
The rules are simple: research must be at the pre-competitive stage and involve several members.
Supplier companies and universities are often involved in the research projects.
How much each partner pays depends on how much work they do. 'Those who do less pay those who do more,' said France, 'but everyone participating has access to the results.'