Britain's small car makers will be put out of business if the Government sets too ambitious carbon dioxide reduction targets, according to former Ford Chief Technical Officer Richard Parry-Jones.
He also warned that aggressive reduction targets would lead to bodged solutions, citing the shortcomings of first generation biofuels, which are now recognised to have had a negative impact on the environment and food stocks in some areas.
'If the Government try to go too quickly they'll basically wipe out the car industry,' said Parry-Jones. 'Smaller car makers will struggle. It is very important that the UK Government takes a balanced view, setting realistic targets to be achieved at a sensible pace.'
Speaking at an Autocar-backed lecture, Parry-Jones outlined his belief that car manufactures would have to produce small family cars that emit just 40g/km of carbon dioxide by 2050. That is the equivalent of a car that averages 180mpg.
However, he said that such gains were entirely feasible so long as sufficient long-term planning, based on science rather than vote-winning ideology, is employed by Governments.
By 2015, Parry-Jones reckons improved biofuel use, aerodynamic changes, weight reduction, reduced rolling resistance and recalibration of engine management systems will allow a typical Ford Focus to dip below 100g/km of CO2.
Further gains from the use of more efficient hybrid systems, biofuels and electric power will then help slash that figure down to 40g/km of CO2.
'I promise you, these cars will still be fun to drive,' said Parry-Jones. 'The 40g/km target is sustainable and feasible in time. It is wildly unaffordable now, so I am stressing that we must not jump the gun or we risk destroying the car industry. It's too valuable to do that.'
Parry-Jones also said he felt that personal mobility should not be curtailed by climate change, insisting that the car industry can make the necessary improvements to keep its CO2 output within sustainable levels.
He also criticised the demonisation of motoring, pointing out that cars were responsible only for 12% of the UK's CO2 output. He cited aggressive tax measures from the Government, the halt in the expansion of the UKs road network and an undue focus on the car's contribution to pollution in the media as examples of this.