The European Commission today confirmed plans to force car makers to cut tailpipe emissions by 18 percent over the next five years.
As exclusively predicted by CAR Online last month, the EC is proposing an average CO2 limit of 130g/km by 2012 - down from an average of 162g/km last year. Manufacturers missing the new target would be fined heavily.
If made law - and a round of lobbying by the industry to dilute the measures is now inevitable - the plans could threaten every sports car, 4x4 and MPV on sale today. The industry is failing to meet its own voluntary target of averaging 140g/km by 2008; one or two manufacturers will succeed (including Fiat), but the vast majority secretly admit they won't hit next year's target.
This has forced the EC to draw up swingeing new laws. Industry commissioner Guenter Verheugen said they would help Europe achieve its commitment made under the Kyoto treaty to cut greenhouse gases. He said: 'We will shortly be in a position to provide not only the safest and best cars, but also the cleanest cars - that is the future of the European automobile industry.'
But the industry warns that the cost of new technologies required to meet the new 130g/km CO2 target could add thousands to the price of every new car. The boss of UK trade body the SMMT, chief executive Christopher Macgowan, said: 'There is a huge threat to employment and the economy. Not only will the choice of cars be reduced by these measures if we are to meet the limits, but independent estimates place a projected increase in the region of £2500 to the sale price of each new car.'
However, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. It seems that the 130g/km target would apply to the industry as a whole, not to individual manufacturers. So specialist firms like Porsche would not be put out of business overnight.