Daimler struggling with EU CO2 emissions standards

Dieter Zetsche (L), Chairman of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars and Austrian-American actor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) introduce the newly redesigned 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class SUV wagon during a media preview inside the Michigan Theater at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, USA, 14 January 2018. [EPA-EFE/ERIK S. LESSER]

The chief executive of Daimler said Monday (15 January) at the Detroit auto show that his company cannot currently guarantee it can meet tougher European CO2 emissions standards taking effect in several years.

Dieter Zetsche, CEO of the maker of Mercedes-Benz luxury vehicles, told reporters he “can’t guarantee” to meet tightening emission standards in 2021.

“It’s a huge challenge for everyone,” he told AFP later in an interview. “We will make it. That’s our intention. But I can’t guarantee it.”

A regulation adopted in 2014 requires vehicle manufacturers selling vehicles in the European Union to reach, with some exceptions, a level of 95 grams of CO2 emitted per kilometer by early 2021, compared to 130 grams in 2015.

Manufacturers that fail will be fined 95 euros per car and gram of excess CO2. This could potentially lead to fines in the tens or hundreds of millions of euros.

Car makers gear up for next round of CO2 emission cuts

As the EU prepares for tough negotiations on reducing CO2 emissions from cars post-2020, industry lobbyists, green campaigners and the European Commission alike seem to agree on one thing: deeper emission cuts from road transport will require a more “holistic” approach.

Fellow automotive CEO Sergio Marchionne of Fiat Chrysler said he understood Daimler’s predicament, and his company was also looking at how to meet the tougher standards – with non-compliance not an option.

“We’ve gone through this. It ain’t pretty,” he said, regarding the cost of fines.

“Having said this, we have no intention of pulling vehicles, because we think we can meet the standards.”

German manufacturers, whose large engines emit more CO2 than smaller models, are struggling to achieve the goals, according to experts.

New EU car CO2 limits in danger amid German automaker lobbying

While the Dieselgate scandal still roars on, the European Union may be about to water down new CO2 limits for cars at the behest of German automakers.

So far, they have relied on diesel to reduce emissions. But diesel engine cars have fallen out of favor with consumers and sales have dropped, exacerbated by the Volkswagen diesel emissions cheating scandal.

“It’s dragged all of us into the very uncomfortable state where we are now on the defensive continuously about the utilization of diesel in the market,” Marchionne said.

To help comply with the new standards, manufacturers are developing a range of electric vehicles, with no certainty about the real-world demand from consumers.

EU’s car emission goals for 2030 stir up ‘tech neutrality’ debate

The European Commission’s latest proposal on car’s CO2 emissions for 2030 has started a fresh debate about whether Brussels has actually dropped its long-standing “technological neutrality” stance in favour of electric cars.

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