German carmakers say CO2 goal is 'unrealistic'
By John Reed in London
Germany's three biggest carmakers have criticised a planned European Union target to cut car exhaust emissions as "unrealistic" and "technically unrealisable" and warned that it could make swathes of the European industry unviable.
The chief executives of Volkswagen, Daimler-Chrysler and BMW described the EU's proposed carbon dioxide emissions target as "a massive industrial policy intervention that will burden the entire European automobile industry, but the German [industry] in particular" in a letter to European Commission officials seen by the Financial Times.
The target could "result directly in the outflow of numerous jobs at car producers as well as in the supplier industry in Germany and other production centres in Europe", the carmakers said. The heads of the European units of General Motors and Ford also signed the letter, dated January 26.
The EU wants carmakers to cut their vehicles' CO2 emissions to an average of 120 grams per kilometre by 2012. The European Commission yesterday again postponed a decision on the target in an effort to reach a consensus. Car companies say they support the EU's drive to cut CO2 emissions, but have struggled to meet a voluntary target of 140g/km.
Germany's carmakers, in particular, with many high-performance vehicles in their line-ups, potentially have the most to lose from the 120g/km target.
However, the Commission yesterday rejected the claims, saying the best way to preserve jobs was to embrace and anticipate change rather than resist it.
"We have made clear there is a need for legislation to meet the target set by the Commission and the car industry of 120g/km by 2010," Reuters quoted Johannes Laitenberger, Commission spokesman, as saying. "What is now under discussion . . is what exactly should be covered by the legislation, that is, what should be counted towards the achievement of the emissions target."
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007 - Reproduced for reference opurposes only
The carmakers are right we believe. Since our engineers would have performed a bad job if they hadn't exhausted all possibilities to maximise fuel efficiency and minimise emissions. The EU's directive is wishful thinking, demonstrating the illusions that reign in the naive brains of many administrators, who generally seem to believe that the world can be saved by technology.
Having said that, the directive must nevertheless be welcomed, since it will force us back to smaller cars with fewer technological gadgets and without air conditioning, etc. Greenpeace demonstrated that a car that takes four persons comfortably from A to B can run on 3 to 5 litres per hundred kilometres. But it won't be the luxury cars that the big brands sell to the mighty and the powerful. Those people will have to learn that small is beautiful.
The EU directive will reduce work in the auto and ancillary industry. It will be a step on the urgent road to a different economy, one that is relocalised, slower and less automatized. That will dramatically reduce resource consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, hopefully quickly enough to avoid collapse because of the combined effects of climate change and the end of oil.
In such a world we will have full-employment because machines of all kinds are necessarily replaced by manual labour.
We will gain future by stopping this scenario of a shrinking world because of economic growth. Economic expansion accelerates our course toward a planet that has virtually disappeared for our offspring:
Helmut Lubbers ... 30.1.2007 Deutsch