The new European Commission that takes office next month will make several decisions affecting automakers in the years to come. The first will be to start work on new CO2 emissions targets for after 2020, which is when Europe's entire car fleet must have an average CO2 of 95 grams per kilometer – the world's lowest. The post-2020 target is expected to be even stricter. The EU is also negotiating a free trade agreement with Japan that it hopes will provide more benefits for European automakers after the mixed initial results from the FTA with South Korea. The European Commission's director of industry and enterprise, Carlo Pettinelli, discussed these issues with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Jennifer Clark.
The EU believes technological innovation is key to growing the manufacturing sector. Europe has the toughest auto CO2 targets in the world, and further reductions loom after 2020. Is it really necessary to have tighter targets?
Back in 2010 when the commission decided on the 2020 targets, it wanted to “lead by example.” We want to have the most ambitious targets because we are sure that the others will follow us. And the burden was shared between the steel sector, auto sector and the rest. The EU could redefine its objectives in a more ambitious or less ambitious sense. But it will involve the EU as a whole, across all industrial sectors, and not just the automotive sector. And the automotive sector, which is a large producer of CO2, will have to make its contribution with a further reduction. We’re at 95 grams per kilometer now for 2020. I would imagine that a further reduction will be requested, if the global reduction for 2030 will be approved. I think the incoming commission will propose a new reduction, but I am not sure it will be for 2025. It could be for another date. It’s a political decision.
Self-driving cars will be a big driver of technological innovation. Where does the EU stand on this?
To make rules already for vehicles that don’t exist, or exist only as prototypes, seems premature. We would risk orienting the market in the wrong direction. So we’ll let them develop it. If there are ad hoc measures necessary to have the prototypes circulate, we are ready to do our part.