Auto executives fret EU’s carbon emissions rules image

Many new models at the Paris Motor Show had one common ground – their advances towards a better fuel economy. While these concepts and technologies would benefit the buyer, they are actually triggered by the very tough emission rules set by the European community.

European regulators are growing weary of the general decay in air quality, the rise of global warming and the availability of long-term energy supplies, so they’re already discussing a spike in the already “draconic” vehicle-emissions standards. Senior executives on the other hand call the move “fatal” for the auto industry.

Automakers say they could meet the rules certain environmentalists propose, but warn the cost is substantial – especially for smaller carmakers – and question whether the benefits would be enough for buyers to accept the higher costs associated to buying the new cars.

In the US regulators have been mulling fuel economy standards, but in Europe the legislators focus on the carbon dioxide emissions. The current standard is being reduced by around 20-25% to just 95 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer by 2021 – leading to an average fuel economy of 54.5 mpg, roughly the same level US automakers would need to meet in 2025.

“That’s why I worry,” said Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn, adding that lowering the level even further could prove “fatal.” Sergio Marchionne added that emissions standards are “one of the toughest issues we face,” and the idea of seeing the limits go down to 65 grams in 2025 is very disruptive.