The warning comes from Ivan Hodac, secretary general of the European Automotive Manufacturers’ Association. He was speaking at the seventh annual Fleet News Europe conference in Brussels last week, the day after EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas proposed the tough new rules.
‘The EU wants lower CO2 and lower NOx, but adding filters adds weight, which increases CO2. Cars will have to be more expensive, €4,000 more, to hit these targets. It’s not cost-effective,’ Hodac said.
Clearly in a combative mood, Hodac described the 130g/km figure as ‘arbitrary’ and accused the EU of ‘ignoring the complexity of the problem’.
The proposed overall limit for the car industry is 120g/km, with increased use of biofuels contributing to the difference.
‘Nobody knows why that figure has been picked. It’s not based on sound fact,’ said Hodac. ‘There are regulations from different parts of the EU and they don’t communicate – safety features like ESP and daytime running lights work against emissions reduction.’
Hodac told conference delegates that people did not want fuel-efficient cars, but looked first at comfort and safety.
He added that the latest Volkswagen Golf weighed twice as much as the original Golf and most of that weight had gone into meeting strict safety regulations.
‘Cars need to be more affordable,’ said Hodac, ‘not heavier and more expensive to comply with regulations.’
He called for an integrated approach on fuel, infrastructure, driving style and technology.
‘Fuel is the most important factor,’ he said. ‘Just 1% biofuel would save 3.4 million tonnes of CO2 a year but to produce that amount of biofuel is not possible in Europe.’
Voluntary agreements with the car industry have seen a 13% reduction in emissions over the past 12 years. The EU car industry contributes an enormous amount of tax and wealth, but Hodac said regulations were pushing the industry in different directions.
Emissions-based taxation could be used to shift drivers towards greener cars, according to Hodac, but getting all 27 governments to sign up would not be easy.