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Oh dear, fleet average CO2 levels now on the rise 
Peter Schmidt | Editor

Published: Fri, 06th October 2017 13:51:08 GMT

Electric diesel SUV crossovers CO2

"Those few remaining optimists still employed in senior autoindustry positions, clinging on to hopes that between now and 2021 fleet average CO2 emission in EU Europe would gradually fall year after year, were in for yet another disappointment. Steep penalties for overshooting those tough 95g/km levels now appear to be waiting for many carmakers. 

That at least is the daunting prospect after digesting some of yesterday’s car sales news for last month. 

September sales in Germany fell below last year’s like for like level. 

The 3.3 per cent dip in sales by itself was neither here nor there. 

In the clear light of day it’s probably no more than a statistical blip caused by one fewer working day rather than the first sign of a slowing or even shrinking new car demand.

But the same certainly cannot be said for some potentially deeply damaging trend data in Germany’s September car sales numbers. 

Perhaps most worrying for the industry, determined to soldier on in the endeavour to at least approach the desired 2021 average CO2 level of 95g/km. 

Hitting the industry like thunder out of a clear blue sky, the September data shows that fleet average CO2 levels this September didn’t fall but rise. 

That’s a near 1 per cent rise to 127.7g/km. The likely reasons for this increase in CO2 levels are easily spotted.

Foremost, diesel fuelled cars, long-favoured here in Europe because of their favourable CO2 emissions, are now shrinking notably faster than earlier expected. 

Last month, German sales of diesel cars didn’t fall but plunged. 

In an overall car market that dropped just 3.3 per cent, diesel sales slumped 21.3 per cent. 

In consequence Germany’s September diesel car sales share plunged head first to a mere 36.3 per cent. 

Compared to the same month last year that’s a dizzying drop of 8.3 percentage points. 

A blessing for the auto-industry’s bean counters, but yet another cause for a now widely shared throbbing headache, for yet another month, German sales of fuel-sipping small cars were on the retreat. 

By contrast, notably thirstier and more profitable SUVs continued to attract Germany’s car buying public in droves.

The writing is on the wall. 

Taking September as a guide, diesel demand is now ebbing away at a far faster than earlier feared rate. 

Moreover, what latest car buying trends are now saying, soon SUV-Crossovers could account for a third of all the new cars sold in Western Europe. 

Now, there is a price to be paid for plummeting diesel car demand and sizzling underlying SUV-Crossover demand. 

So given that consumers’ lust for these generally taller, heavier and thirstier Crossovers is showing no sign of weakening, this striking trend alone, combined with an underlying switch from diesel to petrol engines, is now guaranteed to be mirrored adversely on Europe’s CO2 front.

Today’s developments on Europe’s CO2 front could of course be cushioned somewhat by a correspondingly high consumer switch to electric cars. 

Wishful thinking, it seems. 

This September, despite some of the most mouthwatering financial sweeteners, Germany’s electric car sales (BEVs) rose to 2,247 units. 

Put into perspective, that’s a car sales penetration of 0.8 per cent for September. 

And that in a month in which market-leading VW offered the princely sum of €11,760 to anyone buying an electric e-Golf while scrapping an old diesel at the same time. 

Now, 2021 is approaching at a fast rate of knots. 

With it there’s an obligatory fleet average rule - with teeth - of just 95g/km. 

For Europe’s already sleep-deprived senior autoindustry captains, today’s consumer car buying trend at home brings to life all the scary stuff of a classical nightmare.

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