Simanaitis Says

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DAMN THE CO2, MOVE THE METAL!

WHAT WITH German luxury and high-performance automobiles not exactly prized for their frugality—and the European market currently in the dumps—the German government has persuaded the European Commission to ease its CO2 limits. The details of this are an interesting example of Realpolitik, about which Prussian statesman Otto von Bismarck said, “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”

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Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg, 1815-1898, Prussian statesman and culinary authority. Image from the German Federal Archive.

Whereas U.S. regulations are usually discussed in terms of mpg (“54.5 mpg average by 2025”), the Europeans think in terms of CO2 output. Given today’s carbonaceous fuels, the two are equivalent.

EUPlan

For example, the European Commission (the executive branch of the European Union) has a current CO2 limit of 130 grams per kilometer. This is equivalent to 42.0 mpg for gasoline vehicles and 47.9 mpg for diesels (because diesel fuel contains more carbon).

Scheduled for 2020, the EC originally wanted to tighten things to 90 gm/km CO2. This past July, it eased matters a tad to 95 gm/km CO2 (equivalent to gasoline’s 57.4 mpg; diesel’s 65.6 mpg).

However, to put this in perspective, the Euro market C02 average for 2012 worked out to 132.3 gm/km. And, what’s worse, Euro economies have had new cars glued to showroom floors over there.

Mercedes-Benz and BMW are particularly challenged, as their high-profit cars are at the luxury and high-performance end of the spectrum—the ones least likely to meet CO2 targets.

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Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG, left, 14 mpg (390 gm/km CO2). BMW 760Li, right, 15 mpg (364 gm/km CO2). Mpg data from EPA 2013 Fuel Economy Guide.

So these automakers went to the German federal government, which in turn went to Brussels, home of the European Union. Their plea was to ease the 95 gm/km limit: 80 percent of vehicles meeting it by 2020, but full compliance not coming until 2024.

Let the sausage-making begin.

ECLogo

Reported The Telegraph in Great Britain, Portugal had agreed with the Germans back in July, ahead of this Iberian country’s debt refinancing deal.

Britain followed suit, swapping support allegedly for German assistance in financial regulations. Other countries supported the German proposal as well.

There was early word of French support. But you know how it is with the French and the Germans.

On Monday, October 14, 2013, the EC agreed to renegotiate matters, with resolution not coming until after the May 2014 European elections. (Let’s see the hands of those who find this familiar.)

Vegetarians (i.e., non-sausage types) were uniformly angered. According to Reuters, the EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard was disappointed and rejected the German proposal. The Telegraph reports Rebecca Harms of the German Green Party called it “a shameful sop to German car manufacturers.”

By contrast, Marta Andreasen, Member of the European Parliament for South East England, said, “The horse-trading may well have been unsightly, but you have to take your hat off to Germany.”

I’m glad she didn’t mix Bismarck’s sausage-making with her metaphor. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2013

2 comments on “DAMN THE CO2, MOVE THE METAL!

  1. carmacarcounselor
    October 23, 2013

    I am behind reasonable regulations to reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, but Europe, and the rest of the industrialized world needs to be careful we don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Once again, the idea of selling carbon credits may offer some relief to manufacturers whose vehicles’ exhausts are more difficult to clean up, and whose production numbers are so miniscule that their contribution to the pool of emisions is proportionally slight. Though I have a snowflake’s chance in a Bessemer converter of ever driving, much less owning one, it would be sad to see those extreme aspirational vehicles disappear.

  2. Rev M
    December 29, 2013

    I agree. I think that no matter whatever carbon emission standards are raised to, there should always be a small percentage of allowable exceptions. The super and hyper cars help to push the design aspect of cars, some of which trickles down to the more financially attainable class of car. Not only that, but I don’t see how Auto manufacturers like Porsch, Ferrari, Lambourghini, Pagani etc can exist at all in a world of exclusively super high mileage cars. I can’t see a Murcielago with a hybrid three cylinder engine doing very well, and I can’t imagine any country willingly passing regulation that would effectively put entire brands out of business.

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