European carmakers are ready to talk to the European Commission about an emissions target of 120g/km CO2 by 2015 – but only if other factors such as traffic management, fuel quality and ‘eco-driving’ measures are taken into account to create an integrated solution.

The manufacturers continue to reject a current EC proposal of 130g/km by 2012 as unworkable and argue that improvements in technology alone should not be the only contributing factor to reduced emissions. However, they refused to give a figure that could be achieved by cars alone or commit to a firm date. They are also pressing for a “parameter-based solution”, with a clear suggestion that this should be based on weight, and manufacturers should be able to average the CO2 rating across their fleet.

The CEOs of the eight leading European carmaking groups expressed their opinions at the Frankfurt motor show through their trade association, ACEA. Sergio Marchionne, Fiat Group CEO and current ACEA president, repeatedly emphasised the importance of the “integrated approach” in the carmakers’ proposal and said: “Improvements in vehicle technology can be up to 10 times more expensive than alternative solutions and we need to find a solution at the lowest cost to society.”

But, when pressed to explain what he meant by “an integrated approach”, Marchionne was more vague: “If governments were to emphasise, or even promote, eco-driving as a way of life, our modelling shows this could result in 7% improvement. This is always seen as a car technology issue. The fuel industry, road congestion, enforcement of traffic laws – these all could be done outside the car industry.”

The carmakers laid out a timetable for change based on legislation being enacted in 2009 and a six- or seven-year lead time for the new limits to be introduced, which leads naturally toward 2015. They noted the Japanese government has agreed a target of 138g/km CO2 by 2015 and both China and Japan have formulae based on vehicle weight.

“The industry needs lead time,” said Marchionne. “More than 60% of the cars on sale in 2012 are in production and a further 30% are already at an advanced stage of development.”