But big car makers still claim to be on course to meet ‘ambitious’ regulations for 2020

By Mike Yuille | 12 November 2015

Car makers face an “ambitious” technical challenge to meet new emissions standards, one of the industry’s big players admitted to Exaro.

Rob Halloway, communications and events director of Mercedes-Benz Cars, described the European standards due to come in force in 2020 for emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) as “a significant aggravation of technological strain compared to the objective for 2015”.

The comments came as new research shows how car makers that are the least supportive of tighter rules on emissions – and engage in the most “obstructive lobbying” – are the furthest away from meeting new standards in Europe and America.

“It means a reduction of CO2 emissions by almost 30 per cent between 2015 and 2020 – a significant aggravation of technological strain” – Rob Halloway, Mercedes-Benz spokesman

InfluenceMap, a non-profit company that tracks lobbying over policy on climate change, carried out the research in the wake of the emissions scandal at Volkswagen.

The InfluenceMap report ranks the world’s 12 largest car makers according to their lobbying against tighter emissions regulations, and found a correlation with their shortfall in meeting expected standards in 2020.

Exaro asked each of the 12 big car makers for their responses to the InfluenceMap report’s claims.

Tim Holmes, director of communications and public affairs at Ford of Britain, said: “Our vehicles and engines – including our advanced-technology diesel engines – meet all applicable emissions standards in Europe. We do not use so-called ‘defeat devices’.

“We strive to operate with the highest standards of ethics and transparency. The trust of our customers, dealers and employees is paramount to Ford.”

Rob Halloway, of Mercedes-Benz Cars, a division of Daimler, said: “It is our clear objective to fulfil all legal CO2 requirements. This applies also for the very ambitious European goals in 2020, which poses a significant challenge for the automotive industry.

“It means a reduction of CO2 emissions by almost 30 per cent between 2015 and 2020 – a significant aggravation of technological strain compared to the objective for 2015, which was 130g CO2/km.”

Natasha Waddington, head of public relations at Hyundai, said: “Hyundai Motor is committed to achieving legal requirements for vehicle emissions and reducing fuel and tax costs for customers, through constant innovation and improvements across the powertrain line-up. We are also the industry leader in fuel cell technology.”

Graham Biggs, corporate communications director at BMW Group UK and Ireland, said: “BMW Group has been at the cutting edge of vehicle-emissions reduction for many years.” He pointed to “the development of ultra-low and zero-emissions cars”.

Peugeot said in a statement that its vehicles “comply with emissions standards and takes the initiative to publish real-world fuel-economy figures in partnership with an independent body.”

It “would like to give better information to its customers, investors and other stakeholders.” This included adopting technical measures in anticipation of future worldwide testing procedures that “more accurately represents real-world conditions.”

Matthew Bendall, spokesman for Renault UK and Ireland, said: “Renault is at the forefront of the automobile industry in the challenge to reduce the environmental impact of passenger and commercial vehicles, be that with our ultra-efficient petrol and diesel engines or with our pioneering range of 100 per cent electric vehicles that emit zero emissions in use.”

He said that Renault was “committed to the continual reduction of emissions”.

A spokesman for Toyota said that it had “no comment on this research specifically”. But it pointed to a statement last month on “new environment targets”, setting out the company’s “ambitious set of goals to be achieved over the next 35 years.”

Karen Parry, manager of corporate affairs at Honda, said: “Honda, and the rest of the automotive industry in Europe, tests vehicles in accordance with European legislation. This test is undertaken in laboratory conditions overseen by an independent government-appointed agency, and is a scientifically repeatable process.

“Honda is required by law to quote these government test figures, but does not claim that such performance is achievable in the real world. The test results allow customers to compare the performance of a range of cars.

“Honda does not use defeat devices. A number of European authorities have recently proposed additional testing as a means to check for defeat devices, including potential on-road, real-world testing. Honda supports this additional testing in order to help strengthen regulatory and consumer confidence.”

Nissan said in a statement: “We can state unequivocally that we are committed to upholding the law and meeting regulations in all markets where we do business worldwide. We have a long-standing record of collaborative and transparent relationships with governmental authorities, and this will continue in the future.”

And a spokesman for bottom-placed Fiat Chrysler declined to comment. Vauxhall, the UK-based subsidiary of General Motors, also declined to comment.

Meanwhile, there was no response by the time of publication from VW.

Even among those that answered, however, none addressed the issues raised by InfleunceMap over lobbying against tighter rules on emissions.

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