Car makers are striking back against the EU commission's proposals to dramatically lower CO2 emissions targets for new cars.
The European Union Commission met yesterday to discuss new proposals whereby the average CO2 output of new cars would be lowered to 120g/km by 2012. Manufacturers say that such cars do already exist, but that customers simply don't want them.
"The industry is committed to reducing the environmental impact of our products and we have proven that we are doing our bit by hitting interim targets of our voluntary agreement," said Christopher Macgowan, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
"We have also already produced and brought to market cars that can meet the 120g/km limit – the problem is that motorists do not buy them. We recognise the importance that cars play in climate change, but everybody has a role to play in reducing CO2 emissions. Not only will the choice of cars be reduced by these measures if we are to meet the limits, but independent estimates place a projected increase in the region of £2500 to the sale price of each new car."
The motor industry argues that the Government, the oil industry and consumers all have an important part to play, but that at the moment the onus is squarely on them.
However, EU environment commissioner, Stavros Dimas, reckoned that more fuel-efficient cars would provide long-term savings for consumers, thanks to lower fuel costs.
"Our analysis holds that the extra capital cost of making cars more fuel efficient will be more than offset by the fuel savings over the car's lifetime," said Dimas.
Car CO2 emissions have already dropped by an average of around 15 per cent over the past decade, and manufacturers argue that further reductions are far harder to achieve.