BRUSSELS - Japanese carmakers have signed a voluntary agreement with the European Commission to reduce CO2 emissions. The deal follows months of unsuccessful negotiations which resulted in the EC threatening to impose new environmental legislation on Japanese automakers.
The deal is modeled on the agreement European makers signed last autumn - but gives the Japanese an extra year to meet the 140 grams-per-kilometer emissions limit that takes affect in 2008.
JAMA, the Japanese automakers association, had argued that its members would find it more difficult to reach the environmental targets - which are based on average fleet emission levels - because of the import quotas they face. To maximize profits, Japanese makers have traditionally imported bigger and less fuel efficient cars to Europe, giving them a higher CO2 and fuel consumption average than indigenous European makers.
JAMA said that meeting the 140g/km level in 2008 would be too great a burden for the industry. Japanese makes are steadily increasing production of small cars in Europe. Nissan already makes the Micra in the UK, Toyota will start making its Yaris in France in 2001, and Honda has plans to begin small car production in England.
When efforts to reach a formal agreement in June failed, the EC warned that it would draft legislation by October if the Japanese did not sign a CO2 deal similar to that agreed by the European automaklers' association, ACEA.
Korean makers signed an emissions deal with the EC in June. The Korean auto industry agreed to meet the 140g/km level in 2009. KAMA, the Korean industry association, had argued Korean makers should be exempt from CO2 limits because they have less than 5 percent of the European market, according to sources.
The Japanese agreement needs further approvals from European Union members and from each Japanese carmaker that belongs to JAMA.
The Korean pact also needs further EU approvals.
Both agreements are expected to be finalized by the EC in late September by the new commission and voted upon by EU environmental ministers in October.