Over the past year, a record number of electric cars have been presented, a trend that seems to be coming to an end for the time being. The car industry presents itself greener than ever and gives the impression of meeting a high demand from the market. The opposite, however, seems more realistic: manufacturers desperately need the electromobilist to comply with the CO2 rules tightened this year.

The car industry would always prefer to continue to build combustion engines. Internal combustion engines and nothing else. Changing costs money, so why will we switch to electric motors? Rules from Brussels dictate that cars should not emit an unlimited amount of CO2, at least on average. Since 2015, the average fleet emissions of newly sold cars sold in the EU should not exceed 135 grams of CO2 per kilometre. As of 1 January of this year, that limit has been reduced to only 95 grams per kilometre. And woe to the manufacturer coming out of there! This is a towering fine, which may be so that it will even be interesting for some manufacturers to sell electric cars with loss in order to push the average. A fleet average emissions of 95 g/km sounds quite simple as a rule. Behind the seemingly simple rule, however, a complex calculation system is hidden and there are still many exceptions and compensation possibilities. We'll get the main points straight.

For starters, 2020 is a transitional year. Not all cars that a manufacturer is selling in the EU this year count. Only the 95% of the sales volume with the least emissions has to be taken into account in order to reach below 95 grams. It is only from next year that the full 100% of sales are going to be.



Exceeding the limit runs nicely in the papers. For each gram too much, € 95 fine must be paid. To be a little more precise: € 95 times the number of cars sold in the EU in the year in question. This quickly produces numbers that will quickly show why in a short time many brands have come with electric cars and why many new EV models will follow in the foreseeable future. Manufacturers such as BMW, Ford and Mercedes sell about one million cars a year in the EU. Each gram of CO2 above the border means a fine of some EUR 95 million for these companies for the year in question. Or what about the Volkswagen Group, which accounts for some 3.5 million cars in the EU every year...


The average reduction below 130 grams was still reasonable with conventional technology. Here and there a hybrid in the range was enough; if it had really been necessary, we would have met a Volkswagen ID.3 or an Opel Corsa-e much earlier. However, come below 95 grams, but there is other cake.

Now everything is really being used to push the average. Especially for sports car manufacturers, a limit of an average of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre seems to be an insurmountable barrier. In practice, that's not so bad. Take Porsche, for example. This is part of the Volkswagen Group and can therefore hitch hikes on the average of the entire group. With a small Up, a Panamera is balanced. It also does not prevent Porsche from coming with plug-in hybrids (PHEV) and battery-electric cars (BEV). Cars emit less than 50 g/km of CO2 (and that's the BEVs and many PHEV's) enjoy a super credit. That's lucrative. This year, a car below 50 grams can be counted twice, next year it will count for 1.67 and in 2022 still sold for 1.33 cars sold. This is to stimulate the development of BEVs and PHEV's. Moreover, there is a maximum of the super credit, because it may reduce the fleet average of the manufacturer concerned by no more than 7.5 g/km. An electric car is not only driving for a better world, but also for the manufacturer's fleet average.

Furthermore, the rules offer the possibility to withdraw with other brands outside their own company. This is called pooling. The first and yet only one seen from this is Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (with subsidiaries such as Dodge and Jeep). The American-Italian combination does not yet have BEVs in the European program, but can use Tesla's supercredit within the pooling rules together with Tesla (which does not sell cars selling cars with combustion engine). For example, every Tesla sold in the EU pushes the fiat chrysler average.


By the way, the limit of 95 grams only applies to the big boys. Exceptions are made for manufacturers with limited sales in the EU, depending on the volume of sales. Manufacturers with a number of registrations between 10,000 and 300,000 cars per year (e.g. Jaguar Land Rover or Suzuki) had to show their good will until last year (2019, when the limit for the large volume brands was still at 135 grams) by making it ensure that their fleet average was 25 percent lower than that of 2007. The EU average was 158 g/km in 2007. As of this year (2020), CO2 emissions should be reduced by 45 percent of the 2007 average. It should be noted that there was no limit in 2007. The thing is, they show a 45% reduction. Manufacturers with between 1,000 and 10,000 registrations per year can propose their own reduction target, which is then to be approved by the European Commission on the basis of a number of criteria. These are brands such as Aston Martin, but also Bentley and Ferrari, who in this case are independent of their respective parent companies Volkswagen and Fiat. Manufacturers who register fewer than 1,000 cars annually (the Dark and Morgans of this world) are exempt from a specific emission limit, unless the manufacturer has voluntarily committed to a reduction target.


The fleet average is the sum of the specified CO2 emissions of all newly sold cars that a manufacturer sells in the EU, divided by that number of cars, with the specified CO2 emissions being the value generated from the rolling bank measurement for the type-approval of the relevant model. We speak here for convenience across a limit of 95 grams for the fleet average, but the actual limit varies by manufacturer and depends on the weight of the cars sold. Light cars push the border down and heavy stretches it slightly. The limit is calculated by adding and dividing the specific CO2 emission (based on the vehicle weight) of a manufacturer's cars sold together by adding the number of cars sold by the manufacturer. The specific CO2 emission required for the calculation of the limit shall be determined by the following formula: specific CO2 emission = 95 + a × (M – M0), where M = mass of the vehicle in kilograms (kg), M0 = 1.379,88 kg and a = 0.0333.


The bulk of sales will still consist of cars with an internal combustion engine over the next decade. Entire armies of engineers are working to get those engines more economical (and thus reduce the right proportionateCO2 emissions). The loopholes are also searched to get through the rolling bench tests as conveniently as possible. In the past, the rules offered the necessary space to get tricks out. With the new measurement method (WLTP) introduced since 2017, it is much less possible to extract tricks and the figures are more close to daily practice (and are therefore higher) than with the old measurement method (NEDC).

The rules on average CO2 emissions are currently based on numbers from measurements according to the NEDC, because there was nothing else at the time. In the meantime, the cars are measured according to the WLTP. However, the WLTP figures cannot simply be used for the new limit of 95/km (the number that has been devised according to the NEDC), because then you would compare apples with pears. Therefore, we are working with a conversion factor in which new cars measured according to WLTP (and will be measured in the future) can still fall within the limit value of 95 g/km based on NEDC values. In the long run, the number 95 will eventually change (per manufacturer) into a WLTP value.

The CO2 rules that have come into force this year are not forever. New limits are already being looked at: by 2025, the limit will be 15% below the 20
21 limit. The current cabinet has included in the government agreement that after 2030 cars should no longer be sold that are still emitting something. Whether the soup is really eaten as hot here as it is served, time will learn. The rules in the European Union say that the average CO2 emissions per manufacturer should be 37.5% below the 2021 limit after 2030. That here is spoken in percentage and is because wltp values will eventually work, but that is only possible after the big conversion battle has been made from NEDC to WLTP. Anyway, NEDC or WLTP, to comply with the rules, the role of the electric motor will become increasingly dominant. The car industry therefore desperately needs the EV rider to get out under the skyrocketing fines.

Autoweek 19/01/2020