By on May 14, 2013

BMW’s CEO Norbert Reithofer lambasted EU lawmakers for attempting to  “hurt European industry in competition with the United States and China,” as Reuters reports. Said Reithofer at today’s General Meeting of Shareholders in Munich:

“In Europe, politicians are calling for a fleet average of 95 grams CO2 per kilometer in 2020. This target requires billions in investment, especially on the part of German automakers – and cannot be met without the use of alternative drive technology.”

Reithofer says the politicians are dreaming: “This is all about political wish-lists, and has nothing to do with technical analysis or feasibility … At some point, politicians will go a step too far.”

EU politicians last month backed what by some EU carmakers is seen as a compromise deal, and an improvement: The compromise keeps a 2020 emissions limit of 95 grams per kilometer as an average for new EU cars. It even introduces a new 2025 goal in a range of 68-78 g/km. However, it allows manufacturers to use supercredits to partly offset the requirements.

Reithofer hinted at these credits, saying that “this is no secret – electric vehicles will help us comply with CO2 regulations worldwide.”

Reaching the 95g average  will be tough for a performance-heavy maker like BMW.  Currently, BMW’s European fleet averages 138 grams of CO2 per kilometer.

The standards set by the Obama administration equate to 93 grams of CO2 per kilometer by 2025 for ordinary cars, excluding sport utility vehicles, with big loopholes. Reithofer wants similar-sized loopholes:

“The EU calls for alternative drive trains, but only credits manufacturers with a factor of 1.5 for using them – while the same technology is credited with a factor of five in China and a factor of two in the US. That seems inconsistent to me.”

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23 Comments on “BMW Wants Bigger Loopholes, More Breathing Room...”

  • avatar

    EU – 95g by 2020 vs US – 93g by 2025
    EU – 1.5 credits vs US – 2 credits

    Sounds like typical political one-upmandship to me, the EU longing to be the leader, the US longing to look like it’s nearly as cool as the EU (this defines so many policies in D.C. these days it’s not funny).

  • avatar

    I can sympathize with Reithofer’s point of view. OEMs have come a long way in reducing new vehicle emissions and, based on the law of diminishing returns, any further gains will be cost exponentially more for far lesser percentage reductions. Eventually basic thermodynamics will mean there’s nothing left to cut and the pathetic eurocrats will have to find someone else to beat with their no-CO2 sticks.

    People want cleaner air and to cut emissions? Ban any private vehicle more than 10 years old from doing more than a few thousand miles or kilometers a year and legislate governments and logistics firms to do the same with their fleets. Keeps the business rolling and keeps greener vehicles on the road.

    Likelihood of that happening? Zero – because it’s too easy to keep beating on the OEMs and avoid pushing through positive, beneficial policy.

  • avatar

    I think when it comes to reducing CO2 emissions, consumption targets for vehicles have crossed the point of efficiency. A lot more reduction of CO2 could be achieved by investing the funds required to meet these goals into areas like improving insulation of residential buildings.

  • avatar

    Or we could put our effort into finding ways to better education, so that we won’t have idiots that believe CO2 is a pollutant.

    • 0 avatar

      Last thing we need is loopholes, make the laws as general as possible.
      No exemptions, just destroy the mandates as they are.

    • 0 avatar

      Even if you believe CO2 is a pollutant (I do, but what the hell do I know), passenger cars amount for such a small amount of the greenhouse gasses put into the atmosphere by human activity that investing tens of billions of dollars into another minor reduction really isn’t worth it.

      • 0 avatar

        Cars account for about 12% of CO2 emissions in the EU – not the majority, but not exactly a vanishingly small amount, either. Globally, transportation accounts for 33 percent of total CO2 from fossil fuel combustion, the largest share from any end-use economic sector.

        That said, just about everyone here has made the same, correct point: the bulk of automotive CO2 isn’t from 2013 VW Golfs, it’s from 1995 Volvos and diesel trucks. Subjecting new cars to ever-tighter CO2 restrictions while doing nothing about older cars and trucks is like trying to diet by cutting back on the bowl of Special K you have every day for breakfast while ignoring the Five Guys burger you have for lunch.

        • 0 avatar

          By no means is it an insignificant amount overall. My point is that the difference between BMW a fleet average of 95g CO2/km and 140g CO2/km is pretty insignificant when you’re looking at greenhouse gasses as a whole.

          Using numbers specific to “end use economic sector” usage overstates the problem. End use really doesn’t contribute a lot. Cargo ships, planes, and trucks are responsible for most of the CO2 resulting from transportation. That and the only out we’re giving to automakers is electric cars, which involve greater overall pollution and environmental damage, just not in the form of CO2.

          From an environmentalist standpoint, ICE is better than anything that involves batteries. Too bad politics and marketing have to get in the way.

        • 0 avatar

          The futility of such standards is demonstrated by simply chemistry and mathematics. Water vapor accounts for about 95% of the greenhouse effect, and humans sources contribute less than 1% to this volume. CO2 accounts for about 3% of greenhouse effect, and human contribution is about 3% of that figure. If cars account for 20% of man-made CO2, and you reduce C02 emissions by 50% through tougher new car standards, you are talking about 3% x 3% x 20% x 50% = .009% reduction in CO2 when virtually all cars in the fleet meet this standard in 20-30 years. We will all breath easier then.

          • 0 avatar

            I’m not sure what your source is, but water vapor does not cause 95% of the greenhouse effect. Water vapor is probably closer to 50%, +/- 20% depending on how much water vapor is in the atmosphere locally where you are. CO2 is estimated at between 10% and 30%, depending on the estimate. This 95% number is often repeated, but no one ever has a source for it:


            There are certain estimates that CO2 is responsible for 2/3 of the warming that has already occurred.

            Water vapor capacity in the air is different based on temperature (it’s been a long time since I took Chemistry, but that’s probably Clausius-Clapeyron). Usually warming causes water vapor concentration to increase. If water vapor concentration is low based on capacity and conditions, more will evaporate, and if it’s high based on capacity and conditions, then it will rain.

  • avatar

    Relatively speaking, 138g of CO2 per km is very low. Most car related pollution comes from older cars, not newer cars, and we’ve definitely hit a point where car emissions are more than reasonable. Is the amount of money that is needed to hit these goals reasonable for the relative “gains” they would see from a reduction of ~40g of CO2, or is it prohibitively expensive?

    • 0 avatar

      The expense doesn’t matter, neither the EPA or the EU recognize the law of diminishing returns, nor do they employ cost benefit analysis when formulating policy.

  • avatar

    Given that the carbon footprint of a dog is greater than that of an SUV, can I get carbon credits toward a car purchase for not owning a dog? Or maybe the automaker can get a carbon credit if I trade in a dog to be euthanized when I pick up my new car.

  • avatar

    Folks are beginning to look more deeply into the environmental impacts of electric vehicles, too. They are much worse than just being only as good for the environment as the fuel used to power the electrical station that feeds them. In order to meet standards and design requirements, most next-gen EVs are built on lithium-ion batteries. In technical terms, mining lithium F*#@s Up the Environment Sumthin’ Fierce.

    The environmental cost to produce a lithium-ion powered car is a good deal higher than the cost to produce a conventional ICE car with modern enviro-friendly methods. The end-of-life cost to safely recycle the batteries is also higher than an ICE car. Some within US EPA are beginning to report that, by never buying gasoline, EVs may spend most of their operational lives making up for their increased production and end-of-life costs, environmentally speaking.

    Also, they suck to drive.

    • 0 avatar

      “Also, they suck to drive.”

      Why would a car that has maximum torque at 0 rpm suck to drive? Have you ever driven one? You can get great acceleration from a performance-tuned EV.

      I do agree that we need to consider the environmental impact of an electric vehicle from birth to death.

      • 0 avatar

        Maximum torque @ zero rpm = zero horsepower, ergo no acceleration.

        I think people fixate on torque to much, yes its great but its a unit of force, not work, where horsepower is a unit of work.

        Electric motors seem very good at the average power game where all that instant torque makes more average power and that is what wins the acceleration game. Well that and the actual power applied by the vehicle through its gearing (be it a trans and a final drive or just a reduction gear).

        • 0 avatar

          Exactly. Peak horsepower is still not achieved at low RPM in a electric motor. Much like a ICE, it happens up in the rev range where torque starts falling off rapidly as RPM increases.

          The most torquey design you can have for a electric motor is the series-wound ac/dc motor. Unfortunately, their efficiency sucks at higher RPMs.

          BLDC motors are limited by the permanent field magnets on the motor’s shaft.

          Induction motors are limited by magnetic losses in the iron cores at higher RPMs (higher drive frequency).

          An ICE is breathing really good when a 350V BLDC or induction motor is running out of steam.

        • 0 avatar

          Well, the numbers don’t lie on a Tesla:

          0-60 time: 3.9 seconds (Tesla official number is 4.4 seconds)
          Quarter mile: 12.5 seconds at 110.9 mph (12.6 seconds)

          Simply raising the available RPM range as Aqua225 said will increase horsepower, but won’t generally increase torque at the wheels. If you increase horsepower in ways that make the torque curve different, sure. But this is the whole torque vs. horsepower debate, when it’s torque at the wheels that is the winner, as you implied, raph.

      • 0 avatar

        The only high performance electric car available is a Tesla, and they aren’t in the common man’s budget range.

        Volt and Leaf are both like snails accelerating, so they can extract maximum battery life from a relatively small pile.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    If the countries of the automotive world agree that CO2 reduction is the way to go (and I don’t see that happening anytime soon), then the goal should be to transition to zero carbon vehicles powered by either fuel cells or batteries. These would have to be powered by zero carbon fuels like nuclear, wind or solar produced electricity or hydrogen. In other words if a fuel has carbon in it, don’t burn it. If we started on this tomorrow, it might be done in 50 years give or take.

    • 0 avatar

      That will never work. Nuclear? It works great for generating power, but using it in cars opens up a world of problems. Imagine is all a terrorist had to do was buy a few cars to build a nuclear weapon.

  • avatar

    There is a sort of semi-famous Chinese saying making the rounds: “I’d rather cry in a BMW car than laugh on the backseat of a bicycle.”

    Obviously the lady in the photo hasn’t gotten the message.

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