MUNICH – Toyota Motor Corp., PSA/Peugeot-Citroen SA and BMW AG are the automakers closest to reaching their EU-mandated CO2 targets, according to data released this week by market researcher JATO Dynamics.
Toyota, PSA and BMW need to cut their overall fleet emissions by 7 percent or less to comply with the tougher emissions regulations, which start to take effect next year and go into full effect in 2015. By then, the industry must reduce CO2 emissions from new cars sold in Europe to a fleet average of 130 grams per kilometer. Last year's average was 140.9g/km, down from 145.9g/km in 2009, according to JATO's analysis of 21 European markets.
Daimler AG, Mazda Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. will need to speed up the pace of their CO2 cuts to help the industry reach the overall goal.
If the automakers fall short, they will face steep fines. From 2012 to 2018, the penalties that an auto group faces for being over its target are: 5 euros per vehicle for the first g/km of CO2; 15 euros for the second gram; 25 euros for the third gram; and 95 euros from the fourth gram onwards. A carmaker with sales of 1 million units in Europe that misses the target by 1g/km of CO2 faces a 5 million euro fine.
"I don't think anyone would be put out of business," JATO Vice President for Research Gareth Hession told Automotive News Europe. "But I think you would have to significantly change your retail pricing position if you were to carry on producing high-emitting cars."
Jos Dings, director of Brussels-based green transport campaigners T&E, thinks it is unlikely automakers will miss their targets. "They are clever enough to test the cars in a way that they can comply," Dings told ANE.
New engine technologies and a sales mix that has shifted toward cheaper, smaller, lighter vehicles is helping automakers reduce CO2 emissions, JATO and T&E conclude.
Toyota only needs to cut its fleet CO2 by 4.2 percent by 2015 to reach its EU target of 124.8g/km. Overall, Toyota ranked second in Europe last year based on average CO2 emissions of 130.0g/km, according to JATO's A Review of CO2 Car Emissions across Europe FY 2010 report.
Fiat had the lowest group CO2 last year – 125.9g/km. The Italian automaker needs to drop down to 116.1g/km – an 8.4 percent decrease – by 2015 (see box, bottom).
T&E feels that carmakers previously exaggerated the time needed to comply with car CO2 limits. During 2008, carmakers lobbied aggressively to extend by three years a deadline for average new car CO2 emissions to reach 130g/km. As a result the EU postponed the target year from 2012 until 2015.
"This has woken up people to not believe what the industry says about feasibility," T&E's Dings said.
Said JATO's Hession: "If you set the goal at 120g/km instead of 130g/km, I think the majority still would have met that. But you would have knock-on costs to consumers and you would have had an impact on the profitability at some of those corporations."
Hession also warns that meeting the next goal – 95/g/km by 2020 – will be even harder.
"We are getting to the point where a lot of the eco-technology is becoming mainstream so moving to the next step and beyond becomes ever more challenging and expensive," he said. "You start to need to make parts out of magnesium and other exotic and expensive materials and the costs start to ramp up."
To reduce the amount of CO2, a gas blamed for climate change, the EU set automakers individual CO2 reduction targets as part of a goal to cut average new-car emissions in Europe overall to 130g/km by 2015 from 160g/km in 2006. The 130g/km figure is equivalent to fuel consumption of about 5.6 liters of gasoline or 4.9 liters of diesel fuel per 100 km.
Pressed by French and German automakers, the EU also introduced also a weight-based system that sets individual targets for each automaker. Fiat, which sells mainly small cars, had the lightest average weight for its models at 1,067kg last year compared with 1,337kg in 2009.