Why are car companies trying to block laws that would save us money and protect the climate?

Posted by bex - 10 May 2012 at 10:43am - Comments
Volkswagen is lobbying against critical environmental laws
All rights reserved. Credit: Greenpeace / Pedro Armestre
Volkswagen is lobbying against critical environmental laws

With fuel prices at record levels and predicted to keep rising, you’d think that new European proposals to stem drivers’ costs and reduce emissions would be welcomed by all. But major car companies like VW are opposing these laws – so today we released a new report detailing how increasing efficiency will benefit both the public and the climate.

The best defence against soaring petrol prices is to use less petrol. And the best way to do that - besides driving less - is to improve the fuel efficiency of new cars.

Right now, the EU is discussing how much more fuel efficient our cars need to become. They’ll be making a decision this summer. In the run up to that decision, major car companies including Volkswagen are opposing the efficiency proposals and, if they win, they’ll leave Britain reliant on fuel-hungry cars - with all the high fuel costs, high emissions, and reliance on foreign oil imports and dangerous drilling that inefficient vehicles entail.

With EU politicians caught between protecting the interests of industry lobbyists and the interests of their own people, we decided to make sure they have the full facts at their disposal. We asked an independent expert to calculate the savings that British - and other European - drivers can expect to make under a couple of fuel efficiency scenarios. The findings are compelling:

If the existing EU efficiency law is confirmed (ie car-makers are forced to reduce their average C02 emissions to 95g/km by 2020), British drivers’ average annual fuel costs will drop from £1,731 to £1,335 (in today’s money) by 2020.

If EU governments decide to go a step further and tighten the target to 60g CO2/km by 2025, fuel costs will drop to just £685 by 2030. That’s an average saving of over £1000 per year.

Setting ambitious, long-term efficiency targets of 60g CO2/km is a no-brainer: it’s better for individuals, better for the climate and better for Britain's energy independence. Yet Volkswagen is still opposing the targets - and there's a very real danger that politicians might listen to them.

Over 500,000 people have already asked VW to turn away from the Dark Side and embrace an energy efficient future. Join the rebellion here.

Given that the global supply of oil has peaked,  more or less,  then obviously the more fuel efficient the cars we build,  the longer we can sustain the ultimately unsustainable.  However,  in the current economic and regulatory environment,  60g/mile is not a realistic target.  Such cars can be built today,  but they would be very small,  low powered and fragile and /or very expensive.   You would need to tear up a lot of safety and emissions regulations.

Also,  the headline figures are misleading.  My car is rated at 89g/mile,  but even driving using hypermiling techniques,  I only manage 120g/mile in the real world.  Most drivers would do worse.

Finally,  the market for these very frugal cars is not there.  Like it or not,  most people will not buy a car that returns 90g/mile real world,  let alone 60g/mile,  because they would not like the lack of space, gadgets or acceleration.  We are addicted to oil.

 We are going to be burning a lot less oil in 2030 than today,  because there will be dramatically less oil to go round.  We will all also be driving a lot less,  unless we are very rich.   



Yes I agree there should be stronger legislation to force car companies to make fuel efficent cars, they're too dumb to do it on their own, despite the fact it's in their own long term good.

But why do you keep on harking on about how much money motorists will save. It's a daft argument that doesn't appeal to people reading your blog. Like the Centrica campaign, I'm interested in forcing companies to do what's right, not what saves me, or other consumers money, so please stop this tabloid campaigning.

If we can force companies to change, and at best to offer consumers products at the same or marginally higher prices, then that's a good thing. To somehow spin th story that environmentally friendly choices will also save money, in this distorted capatalist supply system (where the true costs are externalised), is simply an unbelievable lie.

Greenpeace, stand up for what you believe in, argue what needs to be done because it's right, please don't try and appeal to the masses with arguments- which frankly they, or I, don't believe.

In this day and age it is hard to believe that there are any car companies out there that do not want to offer their customers better fuel efficient vehicles. It just doesn't make any sense.

    Fuel efficiency is really important when it comes to cars and most tournaments demand it so it is hard to imagine a company that does not want to provide that.


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I took Nissan up on their offer of a 24 hour test drive in a Leaf. I covered 77miles and used about 16 units (16kWh) of electricity. I suppose I could work that out in grammes of carbon but a short-hand measure would be to compare the 45% electricity generation efficiency from coal with the 15% efficiency of a petrol engine. Performance wise the car is better than most mid range ICE cars. It bears no resemblance to a milk float. One big draw back is the price tag; about £31k but the £5k grant brings it to £26k - still way out of my pay grade but! Oh! and I took my "petrol head" son-in-law  for a spin and he is now a convert.Nissan is no the only pioneer in this field but I have not come accross a better mass production e.v. yet.


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