The European Commission has reached agreement with member states over the regulatory details to provide incentives for car makers to invest in new technologies which reduce CO2 emissions from new cars.
Technology can qualify as an eco-innovation if it is new to the market, contributes to significant CO2 savings and is not otherwise taken into account in determining the level of CO2 emissions from vehicles, the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership reports.
The European Commission says that the new rules will provide the automotive industry with a stronger incentive to invest in new technologies that reduce CO2 emissions from new cars.
Savings from eco-innovations will help the industry meet the European target of limiting CO2 emissions from new cars to an average of 130 grams/km by 2015. Eco-innovations will count for up to 7 g CO2/km towards the target. The eco-innovation must also be used in less than 3% of new cars sold in 2009.
Eco-innovation technologies should also aim at improving vehicle propulsion or the energy consumption of devices that are mandatory, without compromising vehicle safety. This means, for instance, that solar panels converting sunlight into electric energy could potentially qualify as an eco-innovation but an energy-efficient in-car music system would not.
The Commission will assess applications submitted by car manufacturers and component suppliers and adopt decisions approving generic eco-innovations. The actual CO2 savings from the eco-innovations for each specific car will be certified as part of the vehicle type approval process.
Environment group T&E (reported in ENDS Europe) said the new mechanism was an unnecessary concession to industry lobbying. "Current trends are showing that manufacturers are well on their way to meeting the targets, and they do not need extra help to do so," a spokesperson said. "Instead of focussing on expensive gadgets whose actual CO2 reduction effect is debatable, industry should focus on making cars lighter and engines more efficient."