EU legislation stipulates that the average emissions level of new cars must be 95gCO2/km by 2021. But new research forecasts that only four out of 11 of the continent’s top carmakers will reach this target. Fines could rise above €1bn for some firms, according to the study, with VW expected to face the biggest fine of €1.7bn due to a lack of diesel alternatives in its portfolio.

Researchers PA Consulting Group are urging all manufacturers to make significant investments in hybrids and electric vehicles (EVs) to improve their performance.

“Carmakers across Europe need to make radical changes in order to meet the EU CO₂ emissions targets for 2021,” PA Consulting Group head of automotive Thomas Goettle said.

“Many of them need to focus now on developing new models that will appeal to the consumer and help them meet their targets. There is nothing less than a revolution facing the car industry and those manufacturers who fail to keep up face potential fines in the billions.”

Industry revolution

The majority of carmakers will face penalties of €95 for every gram of CO2 above the limit, multiplied by the number of cars they sell in 2020. Fiat Chrysler, Hyundai-Kia and Daimler are set to miss their EU goals, research shows, while Peugeot Citroen, which was previously set to meet its own targets, could suffer after its merger with Opel and Vauxhall.

However, the report does note a positive shift towards greener fleets among some industry players. Volvo tops the rankings, following its announcement that every new vehicle from 2019 onwards will have an electric motor. The news, which broke earlier this summer, was hailed by the company as a “historic end” to the combustion engine.

Also expected to meet the targets are Toyota, Renault-Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), with the latter recently announcing that from 2020 all new vehicle models will be electric. On a positive note, even industry laggard VW has pledged that every vehicle in its model portfolio will have an electric version on sale to customers by 2030.

The anticipated expansion of EVs comes amid a swathe of announcements from governments planning to ban international combustion engines, as early as 2025 in Norway and the Netherland. Nicola Sturgeon this month announced that diesel and petrol cars and vans will be phased out in Scotland by 2032, eight years earlier than the UK Government’s target

George Ogleby

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie