BRUSSELS - Carmakers are desperately lobbying for enough support to throw out a proposed European Union requirement that they take back all scrapped cars starting in 2006. A final vote on the issue is scheduled for February 3 in the European Parliament.
A top auto industry lobbyist said the last hope lay with amendments in the Parliament to the proposed recycling legislation.
Unless they round up enough votes to amend the law, carmakers will be forced to live with a regulation that they say will severely cut into profit margins.
European and Japanese car manufacturers have said they do not oppose the requirement that they recycle new cars beginning as early as January 1, 2001. But the industry strongly objects to having to take back all old cars five years later.
'These vehicles were not designed for recycling,' said Paolo Cantarella, chief executive of Fiat SpA and president of ACEA, the European automakers' group.
Since the legislation proposed by the European Commission went to the Parliament in October, carmakers said they have won support for several changes they have demanded. One is the European Commission's controversial proposal that calls for the industry to bear the entire cost of recycling.
But the 2006 old-car scrappage clause may not have enough votes to be removed from the legislation. The Parliament's environmental committee has failed to pass amendments rescinding the provision. The only way an amendment can now pass is through a majority vote in Parliament during the February 3 plenary session.
'We think we have growing support but it is not easy to get a majority of votes (out of 623 members total),' said an ACEA lobbyist.
The environmental committee for the Parliament, however, is expected to propose that carmakers as well as the scrapping industry, national governments and consumers share the cost of recycling.
The committee is also drafting an amendment that would require carmakers reuse only 80 percent of the materials recovered from a vehicle, down from the 85 percent proposed by the Commission.
A final amendment is expected that would eliminate the 2006 and 2015 recycling targets and set individual targets depending on when the car received type-approval. Only cars that had received type approval by 2006 would have to reach 2015 targets.
The lobbyist said: 'This would give manufacturers more time to develop cars that can be recycled.'