The Truth About Cars » EU The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:47:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » EU EU Ratifies New CO2 Targets Fri, 28 Feb 2014 05:01:34 +0000 14-02-04-Parlement-européen-Strasbourg-RalfR-046

The European Union Parliament approved new CO2 targets for the year 2020, mandating an average of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer, or roughly as much as a Toyota Prius emits. Current standards sit at 130 grams per kilometer. Just-Auto reports that within a few months, discussions will kick off regarding a post-2020 target.

So what does this mean for enthusiasts? Well, expect more of the things that so many of us complain about. Automotive designs will have to work within narrow parameters to meet both design and safety regulations, so expect further homogeneity on that front. Under the skin, we’ll see more turbocharged engines (and fewer naturally aspirated ones), with smaller displacements and cylinder counts, as well as the increasing proliferation of hybrid systems in various forms.

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Credits For Dangerous Refrigerant Is The Latest In CAFE Loophole Mon, 30 Dec 2013 21:08:49 +0000 000-388x550

Remember R1234yf – the replacement refrigerant for R134a that can be potentially fatal, rather than just harmful to the environment? After a protracted battle between Mercedes-Benz and the EU over the use of the new refrigerant, which is flammable and extremely toxic, the adoption of R1234yf appears to be in full swing.

A report in Automotive News claims that the adoption of R1234yf will leave auto makers eligible for CAFE credits. As many as 500,000 vehicles in US showrooms have adopted R1234yf, including the Honda Fit EV, Cadillac XTS and Jeep Cherokee. The switch was prompted by concerns over greenhouse gases, as R134a is some 1,430 times more potent at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. 1234yf is also much more expensive, at roughly ten times the cost of R134a.

Despite the health and safety concerns regarding R1234yf, the relentless drive to switch over to it seems to be driven by a policy of putting the environment before people, no matter what the consequences may be. While the EU has resorted to legal action against non-compliant auto makers, the EPA has offered credits to auto makers that switch over to the new substance to help them meet CAFE requirements, adding yet another layer of complexity to a framework riddled with loopholes and unfortunate incentives.

Automakers like Mercedes-Benz are eager to switch over to CO2 as the new standard for refrigerants, but that would require higher-pressure HVAC systems in car, which would in turn have a negative impact on fuel economy.

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Canada To End Duties On Imported Vehicles From The EU, Will Recognize EU Standards Fri, 18 Oct 2013 14:02:06 +0000 bmw-3-series-wagon-450x275

As part of a new free trade agreement due to be signed with the European Union, Canada will remove its 6.1 percent tariff on imported vehicles from the European Union, while the EU will remove its 10 percent duties on autos and and its 4.5 percent duty on parts.

According to The Globe and Mail, Canada will have a quota of 100,000 vehicles that can be imported, provided they are made with 20 percent Canadian parts. Vehicle with 50 percent or higher Canadian parts content will be exempt from the quota and can enter duty free. Currently, Canada only exports 13,000 vehicles to the EU, with the Eurozone exporting substantially more to Canada. If anything, the deal will result in cheaper luxury cars for Canadians, rather than a sudden rise in vehicle exports from Canada to the EU.

EDIT: Mark Stevenson at is also reporting that, according to a European Commission statement

Canada will recognise a list of EU car standards and will examine the recognition of further standards. This will make it much easier to export cars to Canada.

I wouldn’t be holding my breath for all kinds of Euro hot hatches and diesel wagons just yet. BUT if someone like Volkswagen wanted to import the Polo (a car that would do very well in Canada, according to VW Canada sources who have done market studies), the once prohibitively high costs of homologating the car might be reduced, or even eliminated.

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Is Slump In Europe Over? Car Sales Up by 5.5% in September Thu, 17 Oct 2013 13:52:10 +0000 eurosales

In a sign that the European automobile market may finally be recovering, new car registrations in September were up 5.5% from the year before. Sales in the UK and an extra sales day in the month were factors but industry analysts say that things have finally bottomed out in Europe. Year to date sales were still down, -4% to 9.34 million cars, still on track to be the worst year in two decades.

After the longest European recession since the adoption of the euro currency ended with GDP growth in the second quarter of this year, demand has increased but when car sales were down in August, there was concern. With September sales up, industry watchers now think the August decline was just a blip.

“The worst is behind us. The decline in sales has considerably slowed and we are now witnessing signs of recovery in demand,” said Peter Fuss, Senior Advisory Partner at Ernst & Young’s Global Automotive Centre.
“The sales, however, continue to be artificially boosted by huge discounts and self-registrations by dealers,” he said. Fuss also said that it will be another two years before the European market is strong enough to grow sales without incentives.

The German auto industry trade group, VDA, said, “The western European auto market continued on its course to recovery in September.”

The Volkswagen group was up 6 %, paced by a 17% increase at Skoda and a 15.5% increase at Seat. Audi was up 3% and VW’s own brand was up 2%. A 40% increase at Dacia helped boost Renault’s sales by 22%. All three of General Motors’ European brands’ sales were up with Opel and Vauxhall posting 5.5% increases and Chevy sales up 5%. BMW was up 6% and Daimler reported a 12% increase. Volvo increased sales by 13% and Jaguar Land Rover was up 10.5%. Hyundai was up 6% while Kia was unchanged. Toyota, Mazda, Suzuki and Mitsubishi were all up.

On the down side, Smart was off 2.5%, PSA/Peugeot-Citroen had a 3 percent drop and Fiat’s group sales were down 3%. Nissan was slightly down.

On a regional basis, new car registrations were up 29% in Spain, spurred by government incentives. UK registrations were up 12%, making it six months in a row for double digit increases. Sales in France were up 3%. Sales in Greece, Ireland and Portugal were also up by double digits. Italy and Germany were down, 3% and 1% respectively.

Full sales data here (PDF)

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Germany Persuades EU to Delay Stricter Carbon Emissions Regulations Tue, 15 Oct 2013 14:57:08 +0000 cartogram_EU-PVregistrations2010

After months of intense lobbying, Germany has convinced European Union environmental ministers to keep 2020 new car carbon dioxide emissions standards at 130 grams per kilometer instead of the proposed, stricter 95g/km standard. The German government argued that the tighter regulations would cost jobs and hurt German automakers. BMW and Mercedes-Benz produce larger and heavier cars than other European car companies like Fiat and Renault and they would have a more difficult experience trying to meet the new CO2 standards.

The CO2 standards are a stand-in for fuel economy regulations, with the 95g/km rating the equivalent of fuel consumption of 4 liters pr 100 kilometers (59 U.S. mpg). The EU commission had earlier approved the more rigorous emissions standards, but Germany put together an effective coalition of countries to lobby for the change to be delayed until 2024. The UK and Poland supported the German effort while Belgium, France and Italy backed the 95 g/km standard.


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Germany Lobbies EU To Slow Implementation of CO2 Limits Mon, 07 Oct 2013 15:20:00 +0000 chart_EU2020_CO2slopes

After lobbying by Germany, the governments of the European Union have for the third time delayed implementation of carbon dioxide emissions targets for Europe’s new cars. The proposed limits would have been reduced CO2 emissions from new cars to 95 grams per kilometer.

At a meeting of EU states, Germany’s request to delay a vote on the new limits was supported by Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government in Germany would like to increase the 2020 targeted limits from the previously agreed upon 95g/km the equivalent of 59 U.S. mpg.  Right now regulations permit as much as 130g/km.

Germany’s auto industry would like a longer phase in period, allowing automakers until 2024 for full implementation of the standard. Greg Archer,  of Transport & Environment, an environmental advocacy group, said  in a statement that Germany’s maneuvering was intended to give Mercedes-Benz and BMW a competitive advantage. The issue will be deferred to an EU vote later this month.

EU sources last month said that French automakers, Renault and PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, now support the gradual phase in, having reversed their previous position under pressure from their German partners. While the French companies would have a competitive advantage under the new rules because they sell smaller cars than the German luxury marques, they are also tied to the German car makes. Renault has an industrial alliance with Daimler, Mercedes-Benz’s parent company, and BMW is developing engines with PSA.

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EU Pushes Back Against British Government & Media on “Big Brother” Speed Limiters Thu, 05 Sep 2013 11:00:00 +0000 European-Commission-Logo-square

The European Union Commission has pushed back against reports from within the UK government that the EU was considering implementing devices in private cars that would prevent them from exceeding the speed limit, calling the reports “inaccurate beyond the limit”. In an unsigned statement on the EU’s official blog, the EU obliquely criticizing the British government and suggested that the British media deliberately misrepresented the EU’s position. The remarks denied that any such proposals or even non-binding recommendations are “in the pipeline”. The full statement is below the jump.

Reports in the press over the last day or two have suggested that the EU intends to bring forward “formal proposals this autumn” to introduce automatic speed controls -known as “Intelligent Speed Adaptation” or ISA, into cars. This is quite simply not true and the Commission had made this very clear to the journalists concerned prior to publication.
The Mail on Sunday for example (the only one of these articles online with no paywall), uses a quote from a Commission spokesman but chooses to leave out the first and most important sentence given to the paper’s reporter, which was this:

“The Commission has not tabled – and does not have in the pipeline – even a non-binding Recommendation, let alone anything more.”

The Daily Mail on Monday 2 September had the integrity to include this quote, but only at the end of an article confirming the incorrect slant that the Commission was proposing introducing the system. According to the Mail’s imaginative opening paragraph cars would be fitted with it “if Brussels bureaucrats have their way”.

The Sun On Sunday failed to use the quote above, which it had been asked to use, but stated that “motorists are set to be forced to have ‘Big Brother’ anti-speeding systems fitted in all new cars under EU rules”.

In addition to receiving the quote in writing, the Sun had been told repeatedly in a phone conversation that there was no proposal and none on the way. But it manipulated the conversation to imply that we had said we could not understand why there would be any difficulty with introducing ISA. In fact, we had said we were surprised if the UK government were upset that the Commission consulted it on research into improving road safety, given close cooperation in the past.

The Sun also made the odd statement that the “proposal is being pushed by the unelected European Commission”. Needless to say, it rarely reminds its readers that actual decisions on EU law are taken by elected Ministers and MEPs, including those from the UK.

For the record, the rest of the quote supplied said to all the journalists involved said this:

“The Commission has supported past research into ISA. There is a current stakeholder consultation and study focusing on speed limiting technology already fitted to HGVs and buses. One aspect of that is whether ISA could in the long-term be an alternative.

And a second consultation on in-vehicle safety systems in general. Taking account of the consultation results, the Commission will publish in the autumn a document by its technical experts which will no doubt refer to ISA among many other things. That is all. (NB such “staff working documents” are not adopted by the Commission at political level and have no legal status.) Nothing more is expected in the foreseeable future.

It is part of the EC’s job – because it has been mandated to do so by Member States, including the UK – to look at, promote research into and consult stakeholders about new road safety technology which might ultimately save lives. This is done in close cooperation with Member States and the UK has generally supported such efforts.”

It might indeed also seem strange to some that the UK government -if the press reports are accurate at least in that respect – apparently objects so violently to even being consulted about a range of future ways in which lives could be saved on Europe’s roads.

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European Commission Plans to Mandate 70 MPH Speed Limiters in EU. UK Government Calls it “Big Brother” Mon, 02 Sep 2013 13:00:54 +0000  

Daily Mail Illustration

While Americans have an image of Europe as the place of autobahns with unlimited speeds, if a new proposal by the European Commission’s Mobility and Transport Department is approved, all cars on the continent could be fitted with devices that limit top speed to 70 miles per hour. Cars would possibly be equipped with cameras that would read speed limit signs on roads and apply the brakes if the legal limit is exceeded. The goal is to reduce the 30,000 annual traffic deaths in Europe by a third. The regulations would not just apply to new cars sold in Europe. Used cars would have to be retrofitted.


The British government told the Daily Mail that it was opposed to the proposed regulations. Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin is described as having “erupted” at the news and said the move would violate motorists’ freedom. A source within the government said concerning McLoughlin’s instructions to the UK’s representatives in Brussels, “This has Big Brother written all over it and is exactly the sort of thing that gets people’s backs up about Brussels. The Commission wanted his views ahead of plans to publish the proposals this autumn. He made it very clear what those views were.”

The proposed regulation goes by the acronym ISA, for Intelligent Speed Adaptation and it could be implemented using GPS data or the above mentioned cameras. Two less extreme options to automatically slowing the car would be posting a dashboard warning to the driver, and allowing the driver to disable automatic speed limiting.  An EU spokesman said, “There is a currently consultation focusing on speed-limiting technology already fitted to HGVs and buses. Taking account of the results, the Commission will publish in the autumn a document by its technical experts which will no doubt refer to ISA among many other things.”

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PSA Peugeot Citroen Wins EU Approval For 7 Billion Euro Loan From French Government Wed, 31 Jul 2013 12:00:07 +0000 9968658-1366914703465

Europe’s second biggest automaker, PSA Peugeot Citroen, has gotten approval from the European Union for the French government to guarantee $9.28 billion (7 billion Euros) in bonds to provide Banque PSA Finance, the car maker’s finance arm, with funds so they can sell cars on credit at competitive interest rates.

“We have arrived at a formula which allows PSA to restructure in accordance with clear limits, reducing to a minimum the damaging effects for competitors who have not received support from public funding,” said Joaquin Almunia, EU Competition Commissioner, in a written statement. “This is a balanced result which offers the PSA group the chance to make a new start on a sound basis.”

The bonds helps Peugeot keep down borrowing costs, a vital ingredient in offering loans competitive with the financing deals offered by companies like Volkswagen, Europe’s biggest automaker.

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French Government Ignored Court Ruling, Invokes EU “Safeguard Procedure” to Reinstitute Ban On Mercedes-Benz Cars W/ R134a Refrigerant Tue, 30 Jul 2013 14:00:12 +0000 C_service-500x333

The regulatory and verbal war between France and Germany over Mercedes-Benz’s refusal to switch to the R1234yf air conditioning refrigerant has escalated. After a French court ordered a 10 day stay, lifting that country’s ban on R134a equpped A Class, B Class, CLA and SL cars made since June, Daimler expressed confidence that the French government would abide by that ruling. That confidence was apparently badly placed because the French government has now invoked a “safeguard procedure” of the EU that allows member countries to act unilaterally to avoid a serious risk involving the environment, public health or traffic safety, reinstituing the ban. Daimler promised that it would continue fighting to allow the sale of those cars in France. It claims that the new refrigerant is dangerously flammable and toxic.

The French environment ministry said, “The registration of Daimler/Mercedes vehicles classes A, B, CLA and SL remain banned in France as long as the company does not conform to active European regulation.” Daimler responded by calling the decision “absolutely inexplicable” and promised more litigation. Eu officials said the were talking with both the French and German national governments to schedule bilateral talks in September in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

While French officials frame the matter as an environmental issue, Mercedes-Benz supporters think that national politics and favoring local automakers is a factor. PSA Peugeot Citroën have asked for government financing and Renault has struggled as the European market has had its worst year in decades, particularly with small and medium sized cars. German companies, BMW, Daimler and the VW group, which all make larger, more expensive cars, have been doing better, particularly in emerging global markets. German chancellor, Angela Merkel, angered the French last month when she blocked EU efforts to institute more stringent controls on emissions from large cars.

The head of the Association of Mercedes-Benz dealers in France, Jean-Claude Bernard, said the action was intended “to please the greens and damage a German manufacturer. This coolant is used in 95 per cent of cars in France with air conditioning. If it is so dangerous they should take them all off the road.” Bernard’s group says that about 5,000 deliveries have been affected so far, that orders were down 20% and that the Mercedes models involved represented about half of his association members’ sales, about 30,000 units annually. He demanded an end to the R134a ban and wrote to the French minister for the environment claiming that 11,000 jobs in France were endangered by the ban.

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French Court Backs Mercedes-Benz in R1234yf/R134a Dispute with EU Fri, 26 Jul 2013 12:00:54 +0000 10860649_11507314_HyiBQTR_551x413

After a French court lifted that country’s ban on Mercedes-Benz cars equipped with R134a air conditioning refrigerant, saying that the French ministry for the environment must reevaluate their decision to block those cars, Daimler said that it was “very confident’ that the French government will abide by that court ruling. R134a has been banned for use in new model cars by the EU since the start of 2013.

According to the summary ruling, the ministry has 10 days to decide if it’s going to try to continue the ban on Mercedes A-class, B-class and SL cars built after June 12, which Daimler has equipped with R134a, now banned by the EU because it is considered a powerful greenhouse gas. The ruling does not force French authorities to allow registrations of those cars during that 10 day period.

A Daimler spokesman said: “We welcome the positive decision of the French court, which clearly rejected the French registration authority (decision) to prevent the registration of our cars.”

If the ban is upheld, it would affect about 29,000 cars annually, about 2% of Mercedes-Benz’s worldwide sales.

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Honeywell Dismisses Daimler’s Distress Over R1234yf Mon, 22 Jul 2013 20:12:47 +0000 Neutronics Inc. Photo

Last week, the European Union Commission’s Technical Committee on Motor Vehicles meeting affirmed France’s refusal to allow Mercedes-Benz to sell cars using R134a refrigerant, and alsom indicated that other EU countries may block the sale of those cars as well. Now, Honeywell International, which owns the rights to R1234yf, (the only refrigerant currently approved by the EU) said that Daimler’s concerns are unfounded. M-B had run tests showing that under certain circumstances, leaks in the air conditioning system could cause underhood fires, and that when it burns, R1234yf produces poisonous hydrogen flouride gas.

Reuters reports that Honeywell European government affairs manager Tim Vink told the German newspaper Handelsblatt that M-B did not duplicate real world conditions with their tests.  “The tests that Daimler did were static and don’t reflect the course of a real accident… We are asking ourselves why Daimler doesn’t try to constructively resolve the problem instead of going it alone in refusing to use R1234yf.”

While dismissing Daimler’s concerns, Honeywell”s statement did indicate that air conditioning systems do need to be modified to use R1234yf safely. The company said minor changes to the HVAC system that would allow the gas to dissipate quickly in the event of a leak would address the automaker’s concerns. “It would cause only minimal costs per year, other manufacturers who have already taken that step tell us,” Vink said.

Honeywell insists that the new refrigerant, sold by that company under the Solstice brand and by DuPont under their own Opteon brand and manufactured at those companies’ joint venture plant in China, has no significant risk, and that it’s the most cost effective and environmentally safe alternative to the previously used R134a, considered to be a greenhouse gas. R134a was originally used because it was considered better for the atmosphere than R12. Honeywell’s “cost effective” comment reflects how R1234yf is more expensive than R134a. The high cost of R1234y has also increased concerns over counterfeiting.

Daimler has been selling the affected R134a cooled cars, A-class, B-class and SL models, under the approval of Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority, known by its German acronym, KBA. The European Commission has given German authorities until Aug. 20 to explain that approval, in light of the EU’s ban on R134a.

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Daimler Loses Another Round With EU Over R1234yf, Ban on Sale of R134a Equipped M-B Cars Likely to Spread Throughout Europe Mon, 22 Jul 2013 11:30:11 +0000 SONY DSC

When we last reported on France banning some Mercedes-Benz vehicles because the company refuses to use the now mandated R1234yf refrigerant, representatives from all 28 EU member states were scheduled to meet with the EU’s Technical Committee on Motor Vehicles to discuss the matter, particularly as it regards the sale of M-B vehicles in the 27 other EU countries besides France. That meeting has since taken place and according to a memo issued by the European Commission, those representatives have confirmed that all new vehicles sold throughout the EU must use R1234yf, and that any vehicles with the now banned R134a must be withdrawn from the market in all EU states. The dispute is over the fire safety of the new refrigerant. R134a was banned because it is considered a greenhouse gas.

The EU’s statement from its Technical Committee on Motor Vehicles seems to criticize Germany’s Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (Federal Motor Transport Authority), upon whose certification of Mercedes-Benz A-class, B-class and SL cars built since June, Daimler has been relying to sell the cars in Europe outside of Germany. “National authorities” and the manufacturers they regulate were told they must find “effective solutions to ensure the safety of European citizens” and the goals of climate objectives and a fair, competitive market (emphasis added).

Since the statement from the EU tells member states that “corrective measures shall be taken to bring the vehicles in conformity including the withdrawal of those non-conforming vehicles already sold on the market, as has already been done by a Member State,” Mercedes-Benz can probably expect sales of those cars to be blocked across the continent.

Full EU Commission Memo below:

European Commission


Brussels, 17 July 2013

The Technical Committee on Motor Vehicles supports the European Commission approach to the MAC affair

The Technical Committee on Motor Vehicles met today in a very constructive and positive atmosphere. The European Commission and the competent authorities of the 28 Member States discussed the current situation regarding the implementation of Directive 2006/40/EC on mobile air conditioning (MAC Directive).

There was a general consensus that, within their respective responsibilities, the national authorities and the vehicle manufacturers will have to find effective solutions to ensure the safety of European citizens, the achievement of the climate objectives of the Directive, and the good functioning of and fair competition in the internal market, in full respect of the requirements of the EU legal framework.

Member Stats acknowledged that, regarding the vehicles which do not conform to EU law, corrective measures shall be taken to bring the vehicles in conformity including the withdrawal of those non-conforming vehicles already sold on the market, as has already been done by a Member State.

The European Commission is committed to continue discussions with Member States in the coming weeks with a view to finding appropriate solutions.

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Daimler Loses A Round With EU Over R134a Refrigerant, Full EU Commission Meets Thu, 18 Jul 2013 11:30:50 +0000 article-2279270-179B518F000005DC-954_634x356

The EU Commission has provisionally sided with France in that country’s decision to stop the sale of new Mercedes-Benz cars because of Daimler’s decision to continue to use R134a refrigerant in it’s HVAC systems. The EU has banned R134a out of concerns for global warming. The only available replacement that meets the new regulations is R1234yf, made by Honeywell, and Mercedes-Benz has insisted that their tests show that the new refrigerant is dangerously flammable and could start an underhood fire under certain conditions. The provisional ruling could be a problem for Daimler in other EU countries.

“Currently in the European market there are vehicles produced by this manufacturer that, according to the preliminary Commission analysis, are not in conformity with their type-approval,” EU vice president for trade Antonio Tajani said in a prepared statement on Tuesday. Daimler insists that since the cars were approved by Germany’s Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (Federal Motor Transport Authority), known as KBA, they are legal to sell in France and the rest of the EU. “Our cars have a valid, European-wide permit. Nothing should stand in the way of their being registered.”

So far the cars that are affected are the Mercedes A class, B class and the new CLA. The company said that the regulatory blockade could affect about 2% of its global sales, about 29,000 cars. Audi and Volkswagen have also objected to the refrigerant change.

The issue is serious enough that a meeting was scheduled for today (July 17, 2013) with all 28 Member States of the EU sending representatives. A spokeswoman for Tajani told just-auto from Brussels. “Tomorrow afternoon, we are probably going to send a release on the position of the European Commission.”

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Germany Looking To Torpedo EU CO2 Rules Fri, 28 Jun 2013 15:14:13 +0000 amg-v8-1

In the face of potential CO2 regulations that would mandate tough emissions regulations for new cars in the Eurozone, Germany is doing its best to shut them down completely. And the rest of the EU, along with some OEMs, are not happy about it.

The EU is looking to mandate an average fleet emissions of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer for new cars sold in 2020. This is roughly equivalent to what a current model Prius emits, and would understandably require a serious effort on the part of OEMs to meet these targets. If you’re someone like PSA , Fiat or Renault, that specializes in small, highly efficient engines, this isn’t such a big deal. Current fleet averages for the EU are at 132 grams per kilometer

On the other hand, this is not good for the German marques. Companies like BMW, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz will suffer the most, especially their performance car lineups. According to Automotive News Europe, Germany has been doing everything it can to make sure that its manufacturers get away unscathed

Germany has been lobbying for weeks to shelter its premium car sector from the tighter regulations by campaigning for loopholes, known as supercredits. These allow manufacturers to carry on producing vehicles with high emissions provided they also make some very low emissions vehicles.

On Monday, Ireland brokered a compromise deal that allowed automakers to continue to offset sales of electric and other green vehicles against those of cars with high emissions, but the agreement achieved less than Germany had hoped for.

Instead of a compromise, ANE reports that Germany is now looking to overturn the whole thing, since they have given up on trying to change the agreement itself. This would understandably upset many in the environmentally conscious Eurozone, but it would also mean increased longevity for cars like the Mercedes-Benz SLS, which wouldn’t be the same with a 4-cylinder hybrid drivetrain, would it?


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War Of The Noses: Germany, Alone Against The Rest Of Europe In CO2 Debate Tue, 18 Jun 2013 14:25:33 +0000 exhaust smoke - Picture courtesy

Senior members of the German government are leaning heavily on EU member states, warning “that German automakers could scale back or scrap production plans in their countries unless they support weakened carbon emissions rules,” Reuters writes. Cabinet members are said to focus their strong-arming on EU countries that recently have been bailed-out, mostly with German money. “They have tried everything at the highest level to pressure member states, in particular countries in the bailout club, to support their proposals,” a diplomat told Reuters.  The EU Parliament is set to finalize rules that set a 95g CO2 / km limit by 2020.

The fight however seems not so much a quest for cleaner air than an underhanded fight for more breathing room for the auto industries of some member states.

Germany’s warnings that stricter limits could cost jobs go mostly unheeded. They resonate only with “a handful of central European countries with domestic auto production, but France, Britain and Italy are opposed,“ EU sources tell Reuters.

At first glance, one would think that the latter countries should have even more interest in keeping assembly lines humming than relatively well-off Germany. The truth is one level deeper. The 95g  target hits first and foremost the makers of bigger bore nameplates, and those  are predominately in Germany: Daimler, BMW, Audi, Porsche. Much to the chagrin of other countries and automakers, the Germans are not as much affected by the European malaise than other countries, but they would get disproportionally socked by the 95g rule.  Makers of smaller displacement cars welcome anything to cut the haughty Germans down to size.  “Making less-polluting cars is costly and restricts profit margins, which is why major German manufacturers want to delay the stricter rules,” says Reuters. And that’s why other countries can’t wait.

Their goal is to bleed off profits and resources from competiors, and possibly to put companies like Daimler in serious trouble. Ad if it’s under the green guise of a cleaner planet, even better. Who can say nein to that?

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America Is A Walled-Up Car Market, Europeans Say Mon, 17 Jun 2013 13:06:39 +0000 Picture courtesy

Some folks still desperately stick to the fairy tale that the Japanese car market is closed. The same people became excited when European carmakers  complained about different Japanese technical regulations – something that was sold as “proof” for Japan walling up its market against foreign imports.  The same people claim the U.S. market is open wider than the happy hooker. Not if you ask European carmakers again. Said the European carmaker association ACEA:

“Current US auto non-tariff barriers (NTBs) are equivalent to an ad valorem tariff of about 26%. The elimination of tariffs and just a quarter of existing NTBs would increase EU vehicle and parts exports to the US by 149% for the period 2017-2027.”

The ACEA made this comment after the EU formally agreed to negotiate a trade pact with the U.S.

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EU To Germany: Use The Explosive, Toxic Stuff, Or Else Fri, 14 Jun 2013 17:06:38 +0000

Brussels set the German government an ultimatum:  Force automakers to use the R1234yf, or we’ll see you in court. Germany has 10 weeks to answer, writes Der Spiegel,  before the  EU will file charges.

German carmakers, notably Daimler, refuse to use the R1234yf, refrigerant. They say the new stuff is highly flammable, and when it burns, it produces toxic gases that would violate the Chemical Weapons Convention, would the burning car be used in warfare.

Germany’s Kraftfahrtbundesamt will conduct a series of crash-tests with cars of various makers. Brussels is unlikely to receive an answer before these tests are concluded.

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Germany Wants To Water Down EU CO2 Targets With EVs Nobody Wants Fri, 07 Jun 2013 15:01:54 +0000 EU Parliament - Picture courtesy

An attempt of Germany to water down CO2 targets, about to be imposed by the EU, explains why automakers are eager to build EVs despite a lack of an eager market. Germany proposes that so-called supercredits can be used to off-set the limits. “Unlimited supercredits could allow the manufacture of electric cars for which there is little or no demand, while allowing just as many polluting vehicles as before on to the roads,” campaigners against supercredits told Reuters.

According to the wire, “Germany has been pushing for months for greater flexibility in implementing an emissions goal of 95 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre (g/km) as an average across new EU vehicles from 2020. But votes in the European Parliament so far have backed a fairly robust version of the European Commission’s original proposal.”

Supercredits would allow high emission cars – provided that their makers also make very low-emission vehicles, such as electric cars.

In the U.S., EVs are often only sold in states that demand them by law. So called “quota cars” are available only in the numbers necessary to make the quota.  Tesla’s profit for instance was made not by selling cars, but by selling carbon credits.

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Europe In April 2013: Up A Tad Fri, 17 May 2013 14:07:56 +0000

As predicted by TTAC, European car sales were up slightly in April. Car sales in the EU rose by 1.7 percent in the month, Europe’s car manufacturer association ACEA says. We warned you before not to read too much into it, and we warn you again.

According to the ACEA, “the region counted on average two more working days compared to the same month last year, which would account for the increase.” Actually, what happened was that the Easter week fell into March this year, last year, it was in April. March and April, taken together, shows sales down 5 percent.  In the first four months of the year, the EU new car market was down 7.1 percent. A week ago, we expected the market to be “down around 7 percent for the first four months of the year.”

    %Share Units Units % Chg
’13 ’12 ’13 ’12 13/12
ALL BRANDS** 1,038,343 1,021,358 +1.7
VW Group 26.5 24.5 274,925 250,102 +9.9
VOLKSWAGEN 13.5 12.9 140,010 131,682 +6.3
AUDI 6.2 5.8 63,939 58,925 +8.5
SEAT 2.6 1.9 27,127 19,731 +37.5
SKODA 3.8 3.9 39,451 39,551 -0.3
Others 0.4 0.0 4,398 213 +1964.8
PSA Group 11.2 12.7 116,197 129,272 -10.1
PEUGEOT 6.2 6.8 63,885 69,292 -7.8
CITROEN 5.0 5.9 52,312 59,980 -12.8
RENAULT Group 8.9 8.6 92,635 87,942 +5.3
RENAULT 6.5 6.7 67,849 68,613 -1.1
DACIA 2.4 1.9 24,786 19,329 +28.2
GM Group 7.7 8.2 79,686 83,483 -4.5
OPEL/VAUXHALL 6.5 6.5 67,264 66,037 +1.9
CHEVROLET 1.2 1.7 12,409 17,420 -28.8
GM (US) 0.0 0.0 13 26 -50.0
FORD 7.3 7.5 75,831 76,256 -0.6
FIAT Group 6.4 7.2 66,643 74,011 -10.0
FIAT 5.0 5.3 51,442 53,809 -4.4
LANCIA/CHRYSLER 0.7 0.9 7,529 9,266 -18.7
ALFA ROMEO 0.5 0.8 5,661 8,457 -33.1
JEEP 0.2 0.2 1,584 2,077 -23.7
Others (2) 0.0 0.0 427 402 +6.2
BMW Group 6.1 6.4 63,373 65,833 -3.7
BMW 5.0 5.2 51,553 53,576 -3.8
MINI 1.1 1.2 11,820 12,257 -3.6
DAIMLER 5.8 5.3 60,377 54,525 +10.7
MERCEDES 5.2 4.7 53,859 47,774 +12.7
SMART 0.6 0.7 6,518 6,751 -3.5
TOYOTA Group 3.9 3.8 40,616 38,572 +5.3
TOYOTA 3.8 3.6 39,205 36,711 +6.8
LEXUS 0.1 0.2 1,411 1,861 -24.2
NISSAN 2.9 2.8 30,260 28,614 +5.8
HYUNDAI 3.4 3.4 35,106 34,350 +2.2
KIA 2.8 2.7 29,490 27,517 +7.2
VOLVO CAR CORP. 1.7 1.8 17,557 18,594 -5.6
JAGUAR LAND ROVER Group 0.8 0.7 8,710 7,486 +16.4
LAND ROVER 0.7 0.6 7,065 5,978 +18.2
JAGUAR 0.2 0.1 1,645 1,508 +9.1
HONDA 1.0 0.9 10,092 9,591 +5.2
SUZUKI 1.1 1.2 11,633 11,784 -1.3
MAZDA 0.9 0.8 9,257 8,441 +9.7
MITSUBISHI 0.6 0.6 6,388 5,646 +13.1
OTHER** 0.9 0.9 9,567 9,339 +2.4

On a manufacturer basis, the Volkswagen Group (+9.9 percent in April) continues to outpace the market. So does Daimler (+ 10.7 percent.) Not all carmakers were able to profit from the favorable alignment of the calendars. PSA is down 10.1 percent, Fiat is down 10 percent, BMW lost 3.7 percent. GM Group is down 4.5 percent with a very strong drop for Chevrolet and a slight gain for Opel. Ford is down 0.6 percent.

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EU Red Flags Spain’s Help For Ford Wed, 15 May 2013 13:55:36 +0000 S

In America,  government bailouts of ailing car companies are (at least in some circles) viewed as an inalienable right. In the EU, government aid generally is forbidden by law. Ironically, Ford, the only un-bailed-out Detroit company, now is in collision with these quaint continental regulations.

According to Reuters, “ EU antitrust regulators will investigate whether a 25.2 million euros ($32.71 million) grant given by Spanish authorities to U.S. carmaker Ford Motor Co’s van facility in Valencia breached EU state aid rules.”

Ford wants to produce the new Ford Transit Connect in Valencia, and the  Spanish government contributed a little to the cause that costs around $540 million.

The rest is a bit technical. According to Reuters, “the European Commission said on Wednesday that a preliminary investigation showed that the project might exceed the authorized 5 percent increase in production capacity on a market in decline,” but the Commission doubts data by the Spanish government and whether “the market concerned is in decline.”

The EU forbids bailouts not because they are seen as inherently evil, but rather because this is not a zero-sum game, and helping some would mean state-sponsored damage to others.

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BMW Wants Bigger Loopholes, More Breathing Room Tue, 14 May 2013 12:06:55 +0000

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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CAFE Mit Sahne: EU Greenhouse Targets, Now With New Loopholes Thu, 25 Apr 2013 12:35:43 +0000

European carmakers, faced with greenhouse gas emission targets much stricter than America’s CAFE rules, can breathe slightly easier. According to Reuters, European politicians backed a compromise deal that keeps stringent targets in place, but that also introduces a loophole: So-called supercredits, gained by making very low emission vehicles, such as electric cars, which nobody actually needs to buy. Quota cars, here we come.

The proposal still needs to be voted on by the full European Parliament and endorsed by member states. 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.

While the U.S. sets mileage targets and the EU sets targets for CO2 output, the two amount largely to the same: Burn less fuel, create less CO2. The standards set by the Obama administration equate to 93 grams of CO2 per kilometer by 2025 for ordinary cars, excluding sport utility vehicles, the International Council on Clean Transportation says.

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And Now, Japanese Trade Talks Sans The Silly Propaganda Tue, 16 Apr 2013 12:08:35 +0000

Now that the U.S. and Japan have agreed on a watered-down version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations (America will keep its beloved chicken tax for at least another decade, Japan will protect its rice farmers from the evils of cheap American rice,) negotiations between  the EU and Japan about a trade pact are getting underway, with considerably less drama.

The lead-up to the U.S.-Japanese discussions was big on harebrained hubris that played well at home but caused rolling eyes in more worldly circles.  For years, Detroit carmakers accused Japan of closing its markets to American cars that few want in Japan and that Detroit makers don’t really try to sell to the Japanese in earnest. While a Japanese yen got stronger and stronger to the point of killing the Japanese export machine, a cabal of Detroit propagandists, UAW operatives and Democrat lawmakers could tell each other the story of Japanese currency manipulation, detracting from the fact that America was busy devaluing its dollar. And while the U.S. market  is ringfenced by onerous regulations  that allow only  deep-pocketed and very determined importers to sell their cars in the U.S., the Detroit propaganda machine successfully sold the story of insidious albeit hard to find “non-tariff barriers” that allegedly close the Japanese market tighter than a you-know-what.

Compared to this lunacy that would have made a Goebbels (“The bigger the lie, the more people will believe it”) envious, the discussions between Japan and Europe are a down-to-earth exercise in realpolitik. The EU position is simple: The EU charges 10 percent tariff on imported cars, Japan charges none. So, what can Japan offer for the EU to drop its customs duty?

Says The Nikkei [sub]:

“The EU’s focus appears to be on regulatory issues, such as treatment of minicars. European automakers, like their Japanese rivals, excel in compact models. But the European Automobile Manufacturers Association complains that Japan gives minicars preferential treatment, including tax advantages, that essentially shuts out European competitors.

The EU’s demands are likely to include allowing European carmakers to export to Japan as long as they meet EU safety standards. With sales in their home market suffering from the economic chill caused by the euro crisis, the Europeans fear added Japanese competition. The EU is offering to lower tariffs only to the extent that Japan complies on deregulation.”

An alignment of EU and Japanese automotive standards should be quit doable. Japan and  the EU are UNECE members, however, Japan so far has adopted only a subset of the UNECE regulations. The kei car issue is a bit tougher. Relaxed kei car regulations that would extend the kei car benefits to slightly larger and slightly better motorized versions could include a number of European models, and would at the same time be welcomed by Japanese makers who could sell what currently remains largely a Japanese oddity in foreign markets.  Also, European farmers aren’t big on rice, and both Europe and Japan share a common disdain for gene manipulated food.

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Ford Pushes Congress For Vehicle Standards Harmonization Thu, 11 Apr 2013 16:39:12 +0000

A U.S. House of Represenatives subcommittee meeting became a forum for Ford to advocate on behalf of harmonized vehicle standards, as the US and EU continue to discuss a possible free trade deal.

Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s President of the Americas, said that harmonized standards would allow Ford to cut costs in areas like design, manufacturing and engineering. Ford is aiming to homogenize its lineup across the globe under its “One Ford” plan, eliminating regional models where necessary. Vehicles like the Edge and Mustang will be engineered for world markets in their next generation, while regional models like the rear-drive Falcon, sold in Australia and select world markets, will be killed off.

Automotive News reports bi-partisan support for the measure. Rep. John Dingell, whose Michigan congressional district encompasses Dearborn, where Ford is based, offered support for the measure, while Rep. Terry Lee, who chairs the subcommittee on commerce, manufacturing and trade noted “positive effects that pursuing a regulatory mutual recognition standard could have on the domestic automotive industry.” Translation: if this goes through, we may just get the Focus RS.


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