TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Europe and China are phasing in aggressive carbon dioxide emissions reduction standards that will force automakers to cut levels by a third in 2030. The United States is not on board.
But Uwe Grebe, executive vice president of global business development for Austrian engineering firm AVL List, recommends that the North American industry nonetheless design the region's vehicles to meet more stringent regulations or risk falling behind global competitors.
"In order to be competitive, automakers must focus on global C02 regulations," Grebe told an audience Wednesday at the Management Briefing Seminars here. "We need to take care that the U.S. industry does not fall short by focusing on local requirements. The focus must be on global."
While Europe and China are phasing in new rules, the U.S. has proposed improving fuel efficiency just 3.7 percent a year from 2022 to 2026.
Fuel economy is directly related to C02. The more gasoline or diesel fuel a vehicle burns, the more C02 it emits.
European automakers plan to meet those stringent standards by producing more gasoline-electric hybrids and battery-electric vehicles. Volkswagen, for instance, has budgeted $50 billion through 2023 to produce electric vehicles, the first of which are arriving at dealerships. Every vehicle in the Jaguar Land Rover fleet will have an electrified powertrain option after next year.
But without similar regulatory pressure here, Grebe believes the domestic auto industry might lose its technical edge.
Grebe sees potential for hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles to help reduce CO2 emissions. They are faster to refuel and could be cost-competitive with battery-electric vehicles.
Grebe said, "Battery and fuel cell technologies complement each other and both will be in the market in the future."
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misstated the country where AVL List is based.