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EU considers ban on 4x4s, sports and luxury cars

The European Parliament this week was due to consider CO2 emission limits which could block the launch of most performance cars, luxury saloons and large 4x4s in Europe within eight years.

Its environment committee wants no new cars emitting more than 240g/km CO2 on sale in the EU from 2015. It also wants to block the sale of cars capable of more than 101mph from 2013.

However, the measures have been labelled “ridiculous and draconian” by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. It argued that no carmaker could get every car to conform in time.

The proposal would give manufacturers one model lifecycle – typically six to seven years – to bring their ranges into line.

Looking at the cars on the new car market in 2007, if there were no significant reduction in CO2 output by 2015, the ban would include all vehicles currently in the VED bracket G.

These include BMW M-series, Mercedes-Benz’s AMG models, all Ferrari, Maserati, Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars, and many large SUVs such as Range Rover, Audi Q7 and Nissan Patrol.

Nigel Wonnacott, SMMT head of communications, said VED bracket G vehicles, with emissions of 226g/km or more, currently account for only 7% of new car sales, but the proposals would reduce consumer choice.

“With performance cars, sports cars and luxury models, it is going to be extremely difficult to get every car’s emissions down to 240g/km. There has to be a balance between cutting emissions, making sure the European carmakers remain competitive and not regulating out the specialist products.”

A report from the environment committee was due to be presented to the European Parliament by Chris Davies MEP as AM went to press. Davies told AM he was unsure what response the report would receive.

“The pro-industry criticism, ACEA plus supportive MEPs, is muted, while the Greens say I am not radical enough.

“The process of making EU law involves bargaining so it is usual for each side to start by saying proposals are too soft or too harsh. This is an attempt to find the middle ground from the beginning. It is ambitious but it is entirely realistic.”

Davies has met at least a dozen carmakers and claims that none denies that the targets are feasible. Environmentalists and many component manufacturers believe they can be achieved within months rather than years using equipment already available on the market.

“I do not accept this as a truly cost-effective way of proceeding, of course, but if some radical CO2 reductions had to be achieved in such a short period of time then it is clear to me that they could be,” Davies says.

“Only 25% of carmakers are on track to meet the industry’s voluntary commitment to reduce average emissions to 140g CO2/km by 2008.

“This is why the European Commission plans to introduce legislation later this year or early next.”

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