Emissions cap may end car making in Europe

GAS-GUZZLING sports cars, four-wheel-drives and people carriers could be priced off the road within five years after a crackdown on carbon emissions to be announced by the European Commission this month.

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Published January 13, 2007 by Sydney Morning Herald
By Charles Clover

UK — GAS-GUZZLING sports cars, four-wheel-drives and people carriers could be priced off the road within five years after a crackdown on carbon emissions to be announced by the European Commission this month.

The average new car in 2012 will have to emit no more than 120 grams of carbon per kilometre under proposals to be announced by the European Environment Commissioner, Stavros Dimas.

He said on Thursday that European carmakers had failed to comply with a voluntary agreement they signed in 1998 to reduce emissions by 25 per cent by 2008, cutting only 13 per cent.

At 104 grams of carbon per kilometre, only the petrol-electric Toyota Prius produces less than the 120 grams that the commission will set as a legal requirement for every car manufacturer's range in 2012.

Manufacturers said the proposals, to apply only to new cars, would devastate stand-alone sports car builders, such as Porsche, and specialist manufacturers, such as Land Rover.

Mr Dimas insisted that manufacturers could subsidise cheaper family cars and pass the extra cost of developing new, low-emission vehicles on to the buyers of cars that produce more pollution.

The Prius entered the British market at about £16,000 ($40,000) but costs far more to produce. The difference is added to the price of luxury cars.

Mr Dimas said the five-year introduction period would give manufacturers time to invest in technology to make low-emission cars from lighter materials.

Sigrid Devries, of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, said: "The commission's own studies show it would add €5,000 [$8300] to the price of a car. Manufacturers would have to move outside Europe."

Jeremy Clarkson, who presents Top Gear on BBC TV, said: "I would anticipate that a lot of car manufacturers will start making bicycles. There will be a Lamborghini bicycle, a Peugeot bicycle, a Ferrari bicycle and a BMW bicycle. They will say, 'Look, these are all zero emissions', and get out of it that way."

This week DaimlerChrysler said that comments at the Detroit Motor Show by its chief economist that "quasi-hysterical Europeans" were exaggerating the risk of global warming had been taken out of context.

Van Jolissaint had told the BBC that since he started spending more time at the company's headquarters in Stuttgart he had been shocked by European "Chicken Little" attitudes.

Telegraph, London

BELCHING CARBON

Supercharged Range Rover Sport V8: 376 grams per kilometre
Five-door Ford Focus 1.6 litre (petrol): 184 g/km
Citroen C3 (diesel):120 g/km
Toyota Prius (petrol- electric): 104 g/km.