European car makers have exaggerated how long it would take them to make cars that meet new emissions legislation, claims a new report.
Despite lobbying for more time to meet the rules when they were proposed, European manufacturers are now set to meet the mandatory targets years ahead of schedule, it is claimed.
More questions needed
As a result, the report's authors, campaign group Transport & Environment, are calling on legislators who are debating similar standards for vans to question manufacturers' claims that they cannot meet the standards in time.
In 2008, the car makers persuaded the EU to postpone the target year for average new-car CO2 emissions to reach 130g/km by three years to 2015. Jos Dings, director of Transport & Environment said: 'Three years ago, the car industry said it could not deliver car CO2 targets on time, but is now set to achieve them years ahead of schedule. Now the same industry is saying van CO2 limits cannot be met; it is time the credibility of these claims was questioned.'
Scrappage not the reason for CO2 cuts
According to the report, there was a 5.1% drop in average CO2 emissions from cars last year; however, it concluded that this was not as had been suggested by some observers mainly because of the financial crisis and European 'scrappage' incentives, which shifted customer demand to smaller, more efficient cars.
Instead, the report says, almost 3% of that improvement was achieved through new technology; Daimler, Ford and Mazda, Suzuki and Toyota achieved CO2 reductions of more than 3% in this way.
Dings said: 'This data shows that last year's big improvement in fuel efficiency was not just a one-off caused by a shift to smaller cars; car makers are adding fuel-saving technologies. So the trend of reduced CO2 emissions is structural and will therefore continue when the market returns to normal.'
Who cut what
The latest figures show that Toyota made the greatest progress in cutting CO2 emissions last year (10%), and the car maker is now closest to achieving its target for 2015. BMW, who made the biggest progress in 2007 and 2008, achieved a reduction of just 2% in 2009, suggesting that its 'Efficient Dynamics' programme has been finalised.
The figures also show that the Volkswagen Group, Europe's biggest-selling car maker, disappointed again last year, both in fleet average CO2 (12th of 14) and in year-on-year progress (10th of 14) despite having several individual models with competitive CO2 ratings.
Response from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and traders (SMMT)
We asked the SMMT for its response to the report's claims:
_'In 2008, the EUs proposed targets for 2012 were highly ambitious and did not take in to consideration the product development time frames needed to address the issue. A phased-in introduction was necessary to ensure that vehicle manufacturers had sufficient time to develop new technologies and incorporate them into new car production.
The UK motor industry has made significant technological progress over recent years in reducing new car CO2 emissions and, as a result, is on path to achieving the revised EU targets. Last year, the scrappage incentive scheme accelerated the rate of emissions reduction in the UK, with smaller cars being the most popular vehicles under the scheme.' SMMT_