The EC is considering plans to introduce targets to improve fuel efficiency by 25% in the next four years.

But car manufacturers are lobbying for concessions and weaker targets, saying the reduction is not commercially or technically viable within the given time frame.

NGOs are asking for Europe’s environment ministers to stand firm on the targets.

Jeroen Verhoeven, a car efficiency campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said: “Climate change and rising fuel prices are already hurting European citizens and making cars drastically more efficient is one of the most sensible solutions.

“Today carmakers are still competing on engine power. The EU needs to set the rules so that carmakers start racing towards greater fuel efficiency.”

The organization argues that there is a wealth of evidence that 120g CO2/km by 2012 is achievable, and that a majority of EU citizens would be prepared to pay more for a car which consumes less, although more efficient cars do not have to be more expensive.

It also points out that manufacturers’ marketing practices promote more powerful and higher emitting vehicles, when more efficient alternatives are available. If all cars met the standard of the most fuel efficient models in their class already on the market, the proposed 2012 target could be reached today.

Meanwhile car manufacturer Volkswagen has revealed plans of a concept car capable of 235mpg.

The One-Litre microcar is made of ultra-light carbon fibre composites and can travel 100km on just a litre of petrol.

Sam Bond

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