Ford Europes Schneider says CO2-level legislation will be driven by what consumers demand.
Europe’s automakers have a voluntary commitment to reduce CO2 emissions to 140 grams per kilometer by 2008.
“But political demands are going beyond this,” said Wolfgang Schneider, Ford Europe’s vice president of legal, governmental and environmental affairs.
Referring to discussions on a further reduction of CO2 emissions in the period 2010 to 2020, Schneider said: “Our main concerns are: how we do this; in what time frame; and what our contribution will be versus that of other stakeholders such as oil companies, governments and consumers.”
By year-end, a committee made up of European Commission members and auto industry executives will have outlined priorities for the next 10 years on auto emission and safety legislation.
Schneider said CO2 emissions is the main environmental issue facing the CARS 21 (Competitive Automotive Regulatory System for the 21st Century) group, which is preparing the report.
Schneider said the industry does not want “to walk away from its environmental, safety or social obligations. But Brussels legislators need to be more balanced on automotive regulations.
In an interview at Ford’s European headquarters here, Schneider said:
- European legislators are asking carmakers to move too quickly on pollution-control and safety matters.
- London’s congestion charge is “an innovative way” of dealing with inner-city traffic problems.
- ”Green” credentials are important in automaker competitiveness in Europe.
“Now people are as concerned about jobs as they are about environment and safety issues,” he said. “They now recognize the need to keep Europe competitive.”
London’s downtown congestion charge, often criticized for its perceived negative impact on local businesses, is actually “an innovative way” of dealing with big-city traffic problems, Schneider said.
“I believe this is a better way of tackling the problem than an outright ban on vehicles,” he said.
The Ford executive said with Europe’s growing focus on the environment, “greenness is the competitive element in Europe.”
He said Toyota’s green credentials come mostly from its successful Prius hybrid model, but Ford’s approach looks at all technologies.
Said Schneider: “Diesels are the most cost-effective mass solution. The Prius largely depends on government incentives.”