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Raising the bar - techniques to reach new heights
Matthias Schmidt | Assistant Editor

Published: Fri, 05th June 2015 12:20:09 GMT

High jump Alfa Romeo AID Editorial Matthias Schmidt

Open quote signAiming to achieve greater heights in the high jump a young American athlete named Richard Douglas "Dick" Fosbury almost overnight revolutionised the sport. With his novel new technique, later named the Fosbury Flop, he reached new heights at the 1968 Mexico Olympics, leading him to win gold. The ‘Fosbury Flop’ is still in use today and since then the bar has been raised to higher and higher levels. 

With the 2021 fleet average bar for cars raised by the EU to 95g/km, one wonders which technology will ultimately be chosen to clear this particular high bar.

Mercedes with a higher mix of powerful, larger and heavier cars is likely to adopt a different strategy than mass market Peugeot for instance. 

Today Europe’s car manufactures are still miles short of the EU’s stiff 2021 goal. 

That’s born out by CCFA - the French Car Manufactures Association – data. 

Whereas Peugeot-Citroen, during the first four months of this year, stands out with a fleet average CO2 of 107.2g/km, others fared less well. 

To no one’s surprise, thanks to their mix of larger cars, that compares with a respective 123.5g/km and 128.1g/km for Volkswagen and Mercedes. 

That’s echoed in the performance of countries. 

Norway – with an electric car (PEV) share of 19 per cent so far this year – comes out top with average fleet CO2 emissions of 99.5g/km level. 

No surprise there. 

Same goes for Germany. 

With no PEV or PHEV (Plug-in Hybrids) subsidies to date, its CO2 car levels currently stand at 130.3g/km. 

Meanwhile, Nissan and Mercedes are both focused on these future 95g/km targets, but they clearly disagree on how best to get there. 

Recent talks with both Nissan and Mercedes bigwigs on vexed future EU car CO2 emission targets brought to light contrasting methods to crack this particular hard nut. 

Nissan Europe’s Zero Emission Strategy General Manager, Olivier Paturet, told AID at an electric car summit held in Berlin last month that Nissan doesn’t see its future in Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV). 

Instead, it favours the use of pure electric vehicles to reach the set goal. 

By contrast, last month, Daimler’s CEO Dieter Zetsche told participants at yet another e-mobility conference in the German capital that he sees Mercedes’ strategy mainly in plug-in hybrids. 

On the fringe of that gathering he told AID, that for Mercedes PHEVs “are already profitable”. Zetsche told the conference that electric cars would be part of its strategy. 

However, today these electric cars are far from profitable, he said. 

Today PEV buyers can only be tempted by a stack of cash in the glovebox, Zetsche said.

Mitsubishi, whose Outlander PHEV has become a runaway success in both the UK and the Netherlands - accounting already for every second PHEV sold today in Western Europe - also told AID that its Outlander PHEV is already profitable. 

Last but not least, hybrid pioneer Toyota continues to put its money on hybrids. 

In 2014 just under a third of all West European Toyota/Lexus registrations were hybrids. 

In the long-term Toyota aims to leapfrog the interim electric/PHEV stage altogether in favour of its fuel cell technology. 

It is certain that at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic high-jump discipline the Fosbury Flop will again win the day. 

No such certainty on the winning ways to clear the European CO2 fleet average bar. 

In all likelihood, a host of measures will be employed. 

Foremost among them, ultra-light weight technology across the board, more engine downsizing, cylinder deactivation, higher pressure injection and finally the token use application of PHEVs and pure electric cars. 

Whatever mix of methods, the autoindustry is asked to perform a big almighty jump that even Fosbury would have been proud of. 

It just remains to be seen which carmaker clears the 95g/km CO2 fleet average bar at the first attempt
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