Car drivers 'will save cash thanks to CO2 rules'

Tailpipes of new cars The EC argues strict standards are essential to maintain the competitiveness of European auto makers

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Drivers will save £3,300 (€3,800) over the lifetime of their cars if the EU imposes strict new standards on manufacturers, a report claims.

It says if CO2 emissions from the average car were limited to 95g per km, fuel use would be cut by a quarter.

The innovations to the vehicle would add about £860 (€1,000) to the price of the average car in 2020.

But that extra cost would be offset in less than three years through fuel savings of around £350 (€400) per year.

The joint report from consultancies Cambridge Econometrics and Ricardo-AEA says that once all EU cars and vans meet the standard, Europe’s vehicle fleet will be €35bn cheaper to run each year.

The report is timed to coincide with the first of a series of votes in the European Parliament on car standards.

The 95g limit is proposed by the Commission. It argues that strict standards are essential to sustain the competitiveness of Europe’s car makers and help the EU meet its targets of reducing transport CO2 emissions 60% by 2050.

Price point

The technology is available: cars like the Ford Focus ECOnetic are already achieving the proposed 2020 standard.

The plans may be contentious in Parliament, though, with some German MEPs fearing their impact on manufacturers building bigger, heavier cars.

Monday’s report was commissioned by a group of organisations which believe that Europe’s car makers need to ratchet up efficiency to compete with US manufacturers facing President Obama’s demand of 93g/km in 2025 – a demanding target for US car makers starting from a low base.

The new report estimates that increased spending on vehicle technology will create 350,000-450,000 net additional jobs if the 95g limit is imposed in Europe. This figure will doubtless be contested.

Petrol pump The balance to be struck is between the cost and long-term efficiency of cars

The study was funded by a group including Nissan, the European Association of Automotive Suppliers, GE, the union body IndustriAll and the European Climate Foundation. It focuses only on traditional-engine cars.

Improvements are likely to come from many innovations, including building cars from aluminium – much lighter than steel – and installing universal stop-start technology which turns off the engine at traffic lights.

Volkswagen has already committed itself to the 95g target.

In the run-up to the Geneva Motor Show, Volkswagen’s Martin Winterkorn said the firm intended to become the world’s most environmentally sustainable car maker: “This is a Herculean task calling for the best efforts of all our 40,000 developers. We can do it.”

The European car makers' association ACEA told me the rules would harm some manufacturers.

A spokesman warned: “Price is the number-one factor motivating a customer's purchasing decision. In a sector where margins are narrow and consumers have a wide range of choice, even a slight relative price rise can make a manufacturer’s range uncompetitive.”

The authors of Monday’s study point out that this argument underlines the need for new standards to ensure a level playing field for all car makers.

But ACEA continued: “The fact that a car may be cheaper to run once on the road is not relevant if the consumer cannot afford the new technology and instead opts for a used car, with higher emissions – or for keeping his old vehicle, again with higher emissions."

The campaign group Transport and Environment says this is an old argument from an industry which has been forced by previous standards to improve efficiency and reduce fuel bills. The group argued that the EU needed long-range standards to 2025 to drive further innovation.

It also warns that manufacturers are becoming adept at manipulating tests to make cars appear more efficient than they really are.

The Commission will need to ensure that the move towards diesel vehicles to improve efficiency does not lead to increased local air pollution from particulates.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    Re: 90 Wigmy "The only people that can are ... those on the relevant benefits, poor darlings, who simply must be given a new car every 3 years lest their human rights be infringed."

    Motability doesn't give anyone a car every three years, it leases cars for about £70 per week for three years plus deposit, after which time the car is returned.

    Busses don't go everywhere even if you can use them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    They can do what they will, but at the end of the day it is still an internal combustion engine. It is surely time to be looking for an alternative.
    Over to the scientists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    As if car companies need telling that they can get a competitive advantage by producing more fuel efficient cars!

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    The only way any politician can help us mere plebs, is to leave politics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    If an EU press office or BBC hack really believes the current value of the right to receive£330 over 10 years is £3300 that might explain the flawed explanations and assumptions they seem to offer up. Hold on, perhaps they really would pay £330 now for the right to receive £330 in 10 years time - that would explain a lot about their economic management too! pathetic analysis BBC

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    20 years ago they told us to buy diesel cars are it was half the price of petrol. So we went out and bought much is diesel now??

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    What this research does not take into account is the inexorable rise in the cost of fuel, or the increased carbon costs of manufacturing vehicles on entirely different lines to the conventional car. We've heard all the talk about technological improvements designed to reduce energy consumption, but the manufacturers aren't charities and there's no real proof of energy will be saved.

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    Must be getting desperate for C02 news to report now that the climate models are appearing to have been greatly exaggerated.
    For cheap local commuting an old car & a tin of rust proof

    "....When the gulf stream shifts our weather will change dramatically"
    As it has done many times in the past apparently.

    Maybe we can claim for being 'miss-sold' C02 :D

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    The real problem comes from some people's desire to bolster their fragile egos with bigger and bigger cars. The heavier the car the more energy it uses to accelerate and the more it wastes when braking. (Physics!) Why can't we just be satisfied with the size of cars of the 1950's and 60's? But it's the consumers who must take responsibility - you can't expect the manufacturers to lead the way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    Ahhh the government 'saving us motorists cash'...

    Flying pigs anyone?

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    @Tchernobog 132

    You'll already know that we have to leave it in the ground or face the consequences, which will mosts probably be the deaths of millions if not billions of people, let alone the loss of biodiversity etc etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    If you believe that you believe anything, as to date the only thing the EU has done is to increase costs, and continues to do so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    Learning to drive a car - better to be a cash cow for the gov than a cash-sardine for train companies.
    You only have to worry about the future health of the planet if you have kids . . .

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    I just bought a new Corsa 1.4 rated at 119g/km, it is actually no better on fuel than my old Ka 1.3 which was 141g/km. I believe there is a serious bit of figure fiddling going on when it comes to 'lowering' the average fuel consumption of modern cars.

    I think the new rule would help lower emissions and is a great idea. But the testing process may need to be revised to prevent figure fiddling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    I wish the reporters could get the real story accross, super MOT's, anti tampering, 'black box data recoders' and a host of other regulations being put forward that will effect us all. With MEP powerless to stop or drasticlly amaend. Have a look at "riders are" for more

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    116.Sixp - "...When the gulf stream shifts our weather will change dramatically."

    Are you suggesting that if I drive a 4x4 I could 'shift' the gulf stream?

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    @122 "people who can afford expensive new cars will save money"


    Would love to know how spending £25k on car is every going to save money. How about I spend £3k on a car and have £22k worth of free fuel instead?

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    There is no way in hell this will make any savings for motorists. pay more for a car that is more efficient, so we buy less road fuel. The Government of the day puts up fuel duty to compensate for the loss of revenue. Who can afford a new car anyway?

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    Yes, there are doubts about global warming, but that's no reason to carry on polluting at the same rate. If we can cut emissions then we should want to do it because it's the right thing to do, not because it'll save us a few quid in the short term. We're in this state now becasue everybody is obsessed with short term costs and selfish self-interest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    "But that extra cost would be offset in less than three years through fuel savings of around £350 (€400) per year"

    Yeh..right. That's if there are no fuel price rises which there will be.
    Just like how I'd recoup my £300 for insulating my home within 2 years but in that time prices went up so I never recovered that cost.

    Don't get me wrong, it's a good idea but you won't save a penny!


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