EPA Tailpipe Reg.'s "German Provision" Angers Environmentalists, David Cole

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

As well it might, given that the German automakers are about to game the Environmental Protection Agency’s new “greenhouse gas” emissions standards. The Wall Street Journal reports that “Under a provision of a plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the Obama administration has proposed to set less stringent standards for car makers that sell fewer than 400,000 vehicles a year in the US. That target defines the major German brands as well as a few smaller Asian manufacturers such as Suzuki Motor Corp. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp.” This has not pleased the America-first crowd or the friends of the earth . . .

David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research at the University of Michigan, said the provision would hand “a distinct competitive advantage” to German and other exempted companies that compete with the major U.S. and Japanese brands in the U.S.

Daniel Becker, director of the Washington-based Safe Climate Campaign, which advocates tougher regulation of automotive fuel economy and greenhouse-gas emissions, said BMW and Mercedes “should be required to meet the same standards as General Motors and Ford.”

Strangely, the Germans don’t see it that way.

Vehicles made by Mercedes and some other lower-volume manufacturers, a Daimler spokesman added, “typically are heavier due to more safety equipment and enhanced electronics that are absent from vehicles in the large-volume manufacturer segment.”

A spokesman for Porsche AG said the German sports-car company “will comply with any future fuel and emission standards but cannot discuss the details on how this will affect us until we have seen the key provisions and exact language of the rules.”

Same as it ever was, only more so. The ’76 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regs excluded manufacturers importing/making fewer than 10k cars per year (the Small-Volume Manufacturers Certification Program or Porsche clause). Mercedes and BMW easily exceeded that target, paid tens of millions in federal fines and passed that cost on to consumers. It looks like they’re mad as well and lobbying like a champ. But why?

As TTAC reported previously, the new CAFE/Green House Gas regs are already so full of loopholes they’re virtually meaningless. Perhaps the German automakers should spend more time talking to the domestics’ compliance team, and less time sullying their environmental, uh, tree cred. On the other hand, if ain’t broke . . . [thanks to TMcA for the link]

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • PeteMoran PeteMoran on Jul 30, 2009

    @ Mirko Reinhardt If you get the same fuel economy on the same fuel, you produce the same amount of CO2. Fair enough, but notice the "and" between “at constant speed” and “so long as you’re not concerned about CO2 emissions” Saying (not you) that a subcompact, turbo diesel, Fit or Civic will give the same economy as a Prius without qualification is deceptive at best, outright ignorance at worst.

  • Niky Niky on Jul 30, 2009

    What I said is: Isn't much better than a subcompact (what constitutes "much" is subjective, and we're assuming a good subcompact, preferably one with a Toyota or Honda engine)... but fair enough... what I meant about the lack of a quantitative difference between a Prius and a comparable turbodiesel is in constant running, on the highway... although, do note... that in one traffic-crawling Eco-run through London, the previous generation Prius was bested by a Hyundai Getz, and the current Prius has been beaten by a Hyundai i30. What I was trying to point out is: a hybrid driver, in the absence of tax breaks... pays up front for the difference in fuel economy... and is not getting such amazing mileage that he is completely exempt from a sales tax on fuel. We drove one for a week. And while the economy was amazing, especially in heavy traffic, the difference between that car and a modern turbodiesel of the same passenger capacity was something like a mere 1 to 2 liters every 100 kilometers. And that was a turbodiesel with much better performance and power than the hybrid (a Focus). If we'd chosen a turbodiesel with the same performance, say, the new i30, the difference would be nil or would swing in the direction of the turbodiesel. Against a gasoline subcompact... the difference is still around just 2-3 liters per 100 kilometers.... which comes out to a difference in fuel cost of just $40-50 (based on three dollar gas... these are all just estimations based on our real-world test data) per 1000 miles... or up to $80 per 1000 miles in the harshest traffic conditions, where hybrids do best. Haven't done the 1.8 liter Prius, but we expect it to do worse than the old 1.5 in traffic and marginally better on the highway.

  • Mike Some Evs are hitting their 3 year lease residual values in 6 months.
  • Tassos Jong-iL I am just here for the beer! (did I say it right?)
  • El scotto Tim, to be tactful I think a great many of us would like a transcript of TTAC's podcast. 90 minutes is just too long for most of us to listen. -evil El Scotto kicking in- The blog at best provides amusement, 90 minutes is just too much. Way too much.
  • TooManyCars VoGhost; I was referring more to the Canadian context, but the same graft is occurring in the US of A and Europe. Political affiliation appears to be irrelevant.
  • The Oracle Going to see a lot of corporations migrating out of Delaware as the state of incorporation. Musk sets trends, he doesn’t follow them.