The EU is on Tuesday expected to set tough new targets for car emissions after striking a compromise deal that would give carmakers an extra year of wiggle room.
Member states last summer agreed to rules to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from new cars by almost 30 per cent by 2020, but that deal was later scuppered by Germany, Europe’s largest car producer.
The average amount of carbon dioxide produced by a carmaker’s new car fleet must not exceed 95gm per kilometre by 2021, down from a 130gm target in 2015 that most manufacturers are confident of meeting.
As electric, hydrogen-powered and hybrid vehicles continue to struggle to break into the mainstream market, many carmakers are having to spend billions of dollars on squeezing more and more efficiency out of smaller, more powerful combustion engines.
So far, car producers have been able to squeeze efficiencies out of smaller engines to meet tougher emission standards; but this has been costly. The point is coming at which these efficiencies will no longer be economical, because vehicle production costs and sales prices will become prohibitive. At this point, it may be economically competitive to incorporate some electric vehicle features into cars. Maybe hybrids will be this next evolutionary step.