European car industry: The Germans want it all

Connie Hedegaard, Member of the EC in charge of Climate Action, gave a press conference put forward proposals to implement targets that will further considerably reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new cars and light commercial vehicles (vans) by 2020. The proposals will cut average emissions from new cars to 95 grams of CO2 per km (gr CO2/km) in 2020, from 135.7gr in 2011 and a mandatory target of 130gr in 2015. Emissions from vans will be reduced to 147gr CO2/km in 2020 from 181.4gr in 2010 (the latest year for which figures are available) and a mandatory target of 175gr in 2017. Monique Goyens, Director General of the European Consumers’ Organisation (BEUC), on the right, and Connie Hedegaard, (11/07/2012).

Connie Hedegaard, Member of the EC in charge of Climate Action, on the left,  gave a press conference to put forward proposals to implement targets that will further considerably reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new cars and light commercial vehicles (vans) by 2020. The proposals will cut average emissions from new cars to 95 grams of CO2 per km (gr CO2/km) in 2020, from 135.7gr in 2011 and a mandatory target of 130gr in 2015. Emissions from vans will be reduced to 147gr CO2/km in 2020 from 181.4gr in 2010 (the latest year for which figures are available) and a mandatory target of 175gr in 2017. Monique Goyens, Director General of the European Consumers’ Organisation (BEUC), on the right, (11/07/2012).

That the German cars are gas guzzlers is a fact beyond reasonable doubt, not because they are badly engineered, that they are not, but simply because they are usually powered by engines of many thousands of cm2 cylinders. Those powerful Mercedes, BMWs, Porsches, Audis and even Volkswagens produce hundreds of PSIs, but at the same time they emit analogically more CO2.

This reality though is not a major disadvantage for their sales. Luxury cars spearhead the indefatigable German export machine, and their quality is appreciated all over the world, despite dear prices.There is a problem however or probably two for German car manufacturers. The minor one is that the public opinion is becoming all the time more sensitive to environmental issues. Seemingly however, the people who decide to spend all that money for a luxury German car don’t care much about the environment. Or at least they don’t care that much, as to turn down the German offer.

The second problem, the high carbon dioxide emissions pose for the German car industry, is a bit more annoying and complicated. It is this EU draft Regulation, which plans to set ceilings to the number of cars produced emitting CO2 above a certain limit (95 gr per Km) after the year 2020.

Of course, the German car industry is trying to get special treatment from Brussels, asking for particular licences to produce more cars with high carbon dioxide emissions. The reason is that the German car industry has invariably associated itself, with heavily built cars powered by big engines with cylinders of thousands of cm2.  As a result customers always expect the Mercedes, the BMWs, the Porsches, the Audis and why not and the Volkswagens, to roar.

Clearly the German car industry is not happy, with the number of licences to produce gas guzzlers every EU manufacturer is going to get after 2020. So now they ask Brussels for more licenses for them, to produce highly polluting cars. They call those special rights “supercredits”. These supercredits will permit “all” manufacturers to produce extra numbers of cars which exceed the EU targets for CO2 emission target, if they also make very low emission cars, such as electric or hybrid vehicles. Surprise! Germans manufacturers have already embarked to this direction.

The Regulation

In reality there is a diversity of opinions within the European car industry, about the limit to be set for car CO2 emissions by the year 2020, as well as on and the number of licences each firm will get to produce cars exceeding the limit.

As it is easily understood the Germans want a high limit and more licences to produce above the limit. There is a widely backed proposal though, that the limit of carbon emission be set at 95 grams per kilometre and each manufacturer to have  licence to produce 20,000 cars exceeding the limit.

The Germans now discovered a way to add another 10 or 15 grams to the emission limit, just by introducing a new element in the equation. They now want the firms which produce also cars of low emission, such as electric or hybrid vehicles to be given “supercredits”. Meaning licence to produce more cars which exceed the 95 grams per kilometre limit.  According to the news agency Reuters,  Eckehart Rotter, VDA spokesman, said on Monday 26 November: “Twenty thousand is far too low. Supercredits are a good thing”. VDA is the German car manufactures association.

The question is if the Germans will have it their own way with Brussels at the end.

As for the other problem, the minor one the German car producers have, namely that the public opinion doesn’t like much polluting cars, they plan to overcome it by spending a lot of money on advertisements and other activities to support their cause.

The VDA issued a press release on 12 December bluntly stating: “Six German automotive companies – the passenger car manufacturers Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche and Volkswagen, and the supplier Bosch – are starting their first ever joint information campaign for “clean diesels” in the USA. Under the slogan, “Clean Diesel. Clearly Better.” From today onwards they will publicise the advantages of modern diesel passenger car technology over gasoline engines in terms of cleanliness, consumption and performance. The “Clean Diesel. Clearly Better.” campaign, which has been developed jointly by the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) and VDA member companies, comprises a website (www.clearlybetterdiesel.org) and flanking offline activities on the US market by the companies involved”.

It is clear that the Germans are spending a lot of money to lure the American media to support their cause. This VDA campaign in the US has as an obvious target to silence the accusation, that their cars are more polluting. The Germans are trying this trick by asking the public to focus on their models powered by diesel engines.

Everybody knows however that vehicles with diesel engines in their lifetime are on the average as  polluting as the gasoline powered cars. In any case there is still an on-going discussion about it and to assert that diesel is “clean”, is at least no true. But VDA doesn’t seem to care much about the truth. In any case the whole world knows that German cars are in general powered by much bigger engines, which produce more CO2 irrespective the carburant they use, diesel or gasoline. In this affair VDA acts like a magician, wanting the public to watch elsewhere, when they hide the real thing away.

The Sting will be watching closely this affair.

See the sources of this story.

The German Association of Automotive Industry: http://www.vda.de/en/index.html

Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/26/us-eu-cars-co-idUSBRE8AP0SF20121126

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Comments

  1. Mack Bolan says:

    If they are willing to fight hard enough for it, it can be theirs. Shipping though, I’d imagine, would be their greatest challenge. Car shipping is becoming widely known and a accepted idea and so guys are now hitting it as hard as they can, as fast as they can with quality, professional service.

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