Sergio Marchionne, chief executive of the Fiat Group and current president of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), said that while the European auto industry fully supports the EU objective of reducing car emissions to an average of 120 g/km by 2012, actually achieving that goal will require more than vehicle technology.
He also noted that, since the proposed legislative framework will not be ready until at least 2009, there would be insufficient time to significantly influence the design of cars that will be on the market in 2012, given manufacturers’ lead times.
Everything depends, however, on how this goal [120 g/km] will be achieved. Because, whilst the actual CO2 emissions per vehicle steadily decrease thanks to the many technological improvements by the European car manufacturers, the rise in CO2 emissions from overall traffic has until now at best slowed down. It is very important that governments and the public at large understand these two opposite trends and design a policy that addresses the true challenge.
The future of CO2-emission reductions lays to a much lesser extent than before in technological improvements: significant progress has been made through new engine technologies, cleaner fuels and better fuel-efficiency. The average level of CO2 emissions from new cars has been lowered by almost 13% since 1995, thanks to the commitment that our industry has voluntarily agreed to in 1998.
But the results could have been larger if there had not been the counter-productive effect from EU-regulations (safety, air quality and others) and a market trend towards more comfortable and safer cars that make them necessarily heavier and less efficient, and finally a weak demand for fuel-efficient cars.
The lessons from the past should be reflected in future policy. It is clear that the vehicle industry cannot solve the CO2-problem on its own. Further cost-effective contributions can only be made when the on-going technological improvements of this industry are complemented by other measures: improving traffic management, adjusting infrastructure, increasing the use and availability of alternative fuels, changing driving behavior and influencing consumer demand through taxation. Needed Like in the case of improving road safety, an “integrated approach” is needed.
The European Commission proposal currently on the table puts the burden of reducing CO2 emissions from cars, again, mainly on the automobile manufacturers. It is prohibitively expensive to achieve a target of 130 g/km through vehicle technology only, and it is unrealistic to believe this can be done by 2012. The announced legislative framework will not be ready before 2009: this leaves the industry too little time to apply by 2012; the cars of 2012 will be on the drawing table tomorrow.
The final objective of 120 by 2012 through the integrated approach is achievable, when the right measures are put in place.
Marchionne made his remarks in a speech in Brussels in which he called for EU governments and the European vehicle industry to work together on developing an integrated and harmonized approach to the industry and policy.