A change in the way CO2 emissions are calculated will 'discourage the use of lightweight materials'

The overall environmental impact of a car from ‘cradle-to-grave’ should replace tailpipe emissions as the main measure of a car’s green credentials, say 17 of the world’s biggest steel-makers.

WorldAutoSteel, which includes Hyundai-Steel Company and Tata Steel, claims a change in the way CO2 emissions are calculated will discourage the use of lightweight materials including aluminium and carbonfibre as ways of reducing vehicle weight and fuel consumption.

The group says that the manufacture of these types of lightweight materials typically produce between five and 20 times more emissions than steel. Their use has “the unintended consequence of increasing greenhouse gas emissions during the vehicle's total life cycle”, according to WorldAutoSteel director Cees ten Broek.

The European Union and United States are among legislators reviewing emissions standards and WorldAutoSteel wants action to be taken before alternatively-fueled cars like the BMW i3, which uses carbonfibre body panels and an aluminium-intensive chassis, are widely adopted.

"Regulations that focus only on one part of the vehicle's life cycle will become immediately out of date as the electric vehicle becomes more prominent on the road," added ten Broek. "We are only shifting the problem to other vehicle life cycle phases."

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