European automakers are seeking a five-year delay on tougher CO2 emissions targets for new cars sold in the EU.
The automakers’ lobby group, ACEA, has asked the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, to postpone a 2025 target that is currently being worked on by officials, according to a position paper drawn up by the group and seen by Automotive News Europe..
ACEA is arguing that the car industry needs until 2030 – or about two full model cycles – to meet a new target.
Automakers selling cars in Europe already have a target to reduce average CO2 emissions to 95 grams per km by 2021 from about 123g/km last year. The Commission has committed itself to “assessing” a new, tougher target of 68g/km to 78g/km in 2025.
ACEA says it “may not be possible” for automakers to meet the EU’s goal of cutting CO2 emissions a further 30 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels, according to the position paper.
ACEA did not confirm or deny it supports a delay until later than 2030. "Before the industry is in a realistic position to make any new commitments beyond 2020, it needs to assess consumer uptake and the impact of an increased and wider portfolio of alternative powertrains including electric, hybrid, fuel-cell and natural gas-powered vehicles over the next years," it said in an emailed statement.
Given the disappointing market uptake of such vehicles to date, the industry will need greater support through the expansion of the charging infrastructure, as well as a more consistent, EU-wide approach to customer incentives, ACEA said.
After achieving a 34 percent drop in emissions over the past 20 years, car companies say they are reaching the limit of what is doable with conventional technology.
Tougher CO2 emissions targets will accelerate the push to electrification, which will increase costs significantly for cash-squeezed Europe’s volume automakers, analysts have said. The EU’s current CO2 regulations have succeeded in cutting pollution, at a cost to carmakers and a benefit to consumers.
Equity analyst Arndt Ellinghorst of ISI Evercore estimated that compliance with EU CO2 regulation currently costs automakers in Europe 1,000 euros per vehicle. At a time when the costs of plant overcapacity is weighing on pricing, many mass-market carmakers find this cost onerous, he said. “Brussels is pricing mass market car makers out of the market,” he told the Automotive News Europe Congress on June 10.
Outside the auto industry, calls are growing louder for a tough 2025 target. The debate will heat up ahead of a December conference in Paris tasked with reaching a global agreement to reduce greenhouse gases blamed for contributing to climate change.
Brussels-based environmental group Transport & Environment supports a 2025 target. “Our research shows one simple fact: without fuel efficiency standards for cars, vans and lorries, EU countries will struggle to meet their 2030 climate obligations,” said William Todts, the group’s transport policy manager. “But if the EU sets 2025 standards for cars, vans and trucks, the climate targets could be reached in a way that is good for both the economy and the environment."
Four EU countries and European politicians from across the political divide called on the Commission to publish next year a challenging 2025 emissions standard for new cars. The environment ministers of the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Ireland wrote that “challenging” targets for 2025 will encourage a transition towards a zero-emission powertrains in passenger cars.
A group of Green, center-right and liberal members of the European Parliament called on the Commission to confirm it would publish 2025 targets next year.
The latest limit of 95g/km by 2021 was only agreed after lengthy argument and extra concessions to satisfy Germany, home to luxury car manufacturers such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, which mostly sell larger, more powerful cars with high emissions.
Reuters contributed to this report