Toyota cut emissions by 5% Daimler increase by 0.6% 15.11.07
French, Italian and Japanese carmakers extended their lead over German rivals last year in the race to deliver fuel efficient and low emission vehicles according to new figures published by Transport and Environment (T&E), the sustainable transport campaign group.
Of the major car producing countries in Europe, in 2006 German groups actually increased emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from new cars sold by 0.6% on average. In contrast, French and Italian groups cut emissions by an average of 1.6%.
Despite the overall increase in emissions from German producers, a split has emerged within the country’s car industry. BMW AG reduced average emissions by 2.5% but that improvement was more than offset by the two largest German groups DaimlerChrysler (now called Daimler) and Volkswagen AG who saw increases of 2.8% and 0.9% respectively. Only groups that sold over 200,000 vehicles in Europe in 2006 were included in the study.
The figures, based on sales in Europe in 2006, are derived from official EU monitoring data obtained by T&E under laws granting access to official documents. T&E commissioned the independent Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) in London to analyse the data. Japanese carmakers made significant progress in 2006, achieving 2.8% cuts on average.
According to the EU data, Toyota made the biggest improvement of any major car manufacturing group in 2006 with the average vehicle sold in 2006 emitting 5% less CO2 than the previous year.
PSA Peugeot Citroën (142 g/km), Fiat SpA (144 g/km) and Renault SA (147 g/km) sold Europe’s lowest emitting cars in 2006 on average. Those companies took the top three places when ranked by average emissions of CO2 in grammes per kilometre. Toyota Motor Corp (153 g/km) and Honda Motor Company (154 g/km) took fourth and fifth place.
DaimlerChrysler came bottom of the list of major carmakers with average emissions of 188 g/km.
Jos Dings, director of T&E said: “It is ironic that the country that did so much to get a European consensus on new climate targets earlier this year is also home to the carmakers that are holding back progress on one of the most important ways of achieving them. Germany’s fine automotive engineers should be focusing on making cars leaner and more fuel efficient. Sadly, based on recent progress, they mostly seem to be intent on building ever heavier, larger and more gas guzzling cars that simply don’t belong in the 21st century.”
“Europe needs CO2 standards that mean fuel efficiency comes built in, not as an optional extra. Launching one or two ’eco’ models is not enough to meet the challenges of climate change, rising fuel prices and Europe’s increasing dependence on imported oil." The new figures also reveal the importance of weight reduction in cutting CO2 emissions. Companies like PSA Peugeot Citroën that cut weight also achieved emissions reductions in 2006. DaimlerChrysler and the Volkswagen group’s cars got heavier and even more polluting on average.
German carmakers are lobbying hard in Brussels for future EU CO2 standards for cars to be weight based, in other words less strict for heavier vehicles. But cutting weight is one of the most important ways of reducing CO2 emissions. Weight-based standards have the effect of removing the main incentive to make cars lighter.
Compelling evidence from the United States has found that weight-based fuel efficiency standards would result in a heavier, more polluting and more dangerous fleet than if an alternative metric, the car’s ’footprint’ were used to differentiate the standards. As a result, the US government chose in 2004 to base new fuel efficiency standards for light trucks on their ’footprint’.
“These figures show that the failure to cut the weight of cars is one of the principal reasons why CO2 emissions and fuel consumption are not going down. Basing CO2 standards on weight is completely counterproductive because it punishes weight reductions with tougher standards. If the EU wants to have different CO2 standards for different types of car, it should opt for smarter, ’footprint’-based standards” said Dings.
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