German car bosses look south and west for support in the face of CO2 targets
20 March 2007

In an ironic twist in the ongoing saga of the car and the climate, it looks like the makers of some of Europe's most luxurious and expensive cars may have to rely on help from the likes of Peugeot, Citroen, Renault and Fiat if they’re to have any hope of surviving strict emissions regulations proposed for 2012.These new rules are threatening to impose a mandatory carbon emissions average of 120g/km on every volume car maker in Europe by 2012. For manufacturers like PSA Peugeot-Citroen and Fiat, which mostly trade in frugal superminis, that target looks achievable; for those such as BMW, Mercedes and Porsche, however, it would be all but impossible.Bosses of the most threatened car makers are therefore pushing for more sophisticated legislation. City cars and superminis might very well be expected to emit less than 120g/km of CO2 by 2012, they say, but larger saloons, big coupes, sports cars and 4x4s simply can't, and more realistic figures should be agreed upon. Average carbon emissions should also be weighted for volume, they say; otherwise, a car maker might very well produce 999 1.0-litre superminis, and only one V8-powered SUV in a year, but under these rules, no allowance would be made for that fact.

Consensus is key

Among the leading proponents of the updated rules are VW Group chief Martin Winterkorn and BMW boss Norbert Reithofer; the problem they face is that unless the car industry as a whole agrees a common response, the proposals could pass into the European statute unmoderated.Their only chance is to convince the various members of ACEA, the European Automakers' Association, to unite behind the call for graduated targets – and that may be harder than it at first seems. One Fiat source told Autocar that "he did not wish to agree to a deal that would effectively subsidise German gas-guzzlers."ACEA members have imposed a deadline of 31 April before which agreement between car makers must be reached.

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