Carmakers on Way to European Union Carbon Goals

Auto makers in Europe likely will meet binding European Union targets to cut greenhouse gases years before the official 2015 deadline after car detail their CO2 emissions dropped a record 5.1% last year, a study showed Thursday.

“All available evidence suggests that carmakers in Europe are heading for very significant ‘overcompliance’ with the CO2 regulation,” said the report, written by Transport & Environment, a Brussels environmental organization supporting clean transport.

Two years ago, the EU approved new rules to gradually limit CO2 emissions from cars. Starting in 2012, each auto maker will have its own specific target. By 2015, all new cars sold in the EU will have to emit, on average, no more than 120 grams of CO2 a kilometer, from an average of just under 160 grams in 2007. Engine technology will cut emissions to 130 grams, while complementary measures, such as energy-saving tires, will cut an additional 10 grams.

Official EU data, analysed by green transport campaigners T&E, showed Toyota had reduced the average carbon dioxide from its cars by 10 percent last year, more than five times the pace achieved last year by the previous leader, Germany’s BMW .

Suzuki Motor Corp made the second biggest emissions cuts last year, at 9.1 percent, followed by Mazda with 5.4 percent.

Powerful German brands produced by BMW (151), Volkswagen (153) and Daimler (Mercedes hit 167) brought up the rear

In 2008 carmakers successfully pushed back from 2012 to 2015 the deadline for technological innovation, allowing them to meet stipulations, in exchange for a commitment to drop to 95 g/km by 2020.

Despite not insignificant loopholes, they can be heavily fined if they miss these targets as the EU strives to meet wider aims in reducing emissions of harmful gases blamed for negative climate change effects.

“All available evidence suggests that carmakers in Europe are heading for very significant ?overcompliance? with the CO2 regulation and are hence likely to hit the target for 2015 years in advance,” said author Jos Dings in the report.

Taking 14 major manufacturers together, the car industry as a whole reduced its “sales-weighted average emissions of CO2/km by a record 5.1 percent in 2009.”

The report, which can be found at said Toyota made the biggest progress in 2009, recording “a 10 percent improvement in fuel efficiency over the year.”

The authors highlighted the effects of the financial crisis and government subsidies for new cars, “shifting demand to cheaper cars which are typically smaller and pollute less.”

But it stressed that “actually at least half of the reductions in 2009 were achieved through better drivetrain technology.”

The researchers hope the results will influence negotiations on emissions targets for light trucks and other commercial vehicles.

The report spells out that one litre of petrol consumption leads to about 2.34 kilos of CO2, and one litre of diesel to about 2.62.