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Germany’s average CO2 emissions from cars have plateaued 
Peter Schmidt | Editor

Published: Fri, 19th January 2018 20:33:45 GMT

Portugal traffic 2017 AID stock

If recent trends of average CO2 emissions from cars in Germany are any guide, chances are that some of today’s carmakers will miss the EU’s obligatory 2021 CO2 targets by some margin. In consequence, they have to face up to the unsavoury prospect of paying massive future fines. But help is on the way. Some experts now believes that a small single-digit sales share from both electric cars and plug-in hybrids (BEVs & PHEVs) are the silver bullet for avoiding the impending steep financial fines.

The steady reductions of average CO2 emissions from cars seen during recent years in Germany have ground to a halt. Instead of notching up yet another small decline, for the whole of last year Germany’s KBA data shows a minor increase to 127.9 g/km compared with a slightly lower 127.4 g/km seen only the year before. 

Bad news.

Official figures reveal that of late average CO2 emissions from newly registered cars in Germany have plateaued. 

After years of heading steadily into a firm downward direction, and after hitting a recent low point of 125.1g/km in December 2015, German CO2 emission from cars appear to have continued to edge up again. Since the start of last year Germany’s monthly average CO2 emissions from newly registered cars have continued to hover almost motionless around the 128g/km point. 

Likewise, for the whole of last year they reached 127.9g/km, according to KBA numbers. 

Compared with the previous year, that’s a 0.5 percentage point gain during the past year alone. 

The dilemma is that the long-witnessed downward trend in average CO2 emission from cars was stopped in its tracks. 

On the one hand, this coincides with the intensifying sharp market share losses from more CO2 efficient diesel powered cars. 

On the other hand, forever growing inroads from larger and heavier SUV-Crossovers also prevented average CO2 levels from cars from falling any further. 

Moreover, there is also a growing trend in the region of conventional cars being ordered with all-wheel drive, further increasing emissions

Reality is that these intensifying European car buying trends can’t fail but impact negatively on average CO2 emission from new cars. 

Given no significant change in car buying trends between now and 2021, likelihood now is that the EU’s fleet average 95g/km 2021 CO2 levels will be missed by many carmakers. 

Today’s most powerful antidote? 

A meaningful sales share from genuine zero emission electric cars and PHEVs. 

No surprise then that Mercedes will soldier on with its otherwise luckless Smart cars, given that in just three years from now every Smart sold in Europe will likely be of the BEV type. 

Also, pumping these cars into its European car2go fleet will serve the same purpose.

The much respected sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) estimates that thanks to the super-credits to be had from electric cars, “by selling around 3-5% plug-in hybrid and electric cars by 2020, most manufacturers will earn sufficient super-credits to meet their [CO2] targets”

But there is also a price to be paid by the industry. 

For the foreseeable future at least, likelihood now is that in the short term at least, most electric cars sold by necessity in Europe will be sold at a loss.

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