After lobbying for less-stringent emissions targets failed to sway EU legislators, European auto suppliers hope that the new European Commission will be more receptive to their message.
Earlier this year, the EU approved CO2 emissions targets for 2030 that will be 37.5 per cent lower than the 2020-21 fleet limit of 95 grams per km. Suppliers and automakers say that the 2030 figure — equivalent to around 60 g/km — will mean a costly and disruptive switch to mass electrification.
The industry had hoped for a reduction of around 20 per cent, arguing that they needed more time to prepare and to avoid potential job losses.
Suppliers say they can live with that figure, so long as they have some certainty. “We need a reliable framework,” said Wolf-Henning Scheider, the CEO of ZF Friedrichshafen, said an event for the supplier’s group CLEPA in Brussels this week.
“The EU decided last year on the toughest emissions regulations worldwide. We’re against discussions to restart new regulations because it creates uncertainty.”
Roberto Vavassori, the president of CLEPA, said suppliers would make sure their voice was heard when the next round of emissions targets is considered.
“Beyond 2030 we want to work well in advance to suggest new regulations, “said Vavassori, who is a board member at brake manufacturer Brembo. Any new rules, he said, should take into account life cycle assessment, meaning a vehicle’s entire carbon footprint, rather than tailpipe emissions.
The new Commission, under President Ursula von der Leyen, took office Dec. 1 and will serve for five years. The Commission has the final vote on EU legislation and rules changes.
Von der Leyen signalled that the Commission will take a hard line on greenhouse gas emissions, declaring a climate “emergency” ahead of the recent COP 25 climate summit in Madrid and seeking to reduce 2030 carbon emissions to at least 50 per cent, up from an earlier target of 40 per cent.
Looking further ahead, the Commission’s “green new deal” is targeting net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, a goal that Von der Leyen seeks to enshrine into law.
Vavassori and others said the VW diesel-emissions scandal had caused a rift between regulators and the automotive industry.
“The fight that started after dieselgate left our industry without a voice, without the possibility to represent the facts and figures correctly,” he said. “We see an opportunity now with the new Commission.”
Faurecia CEO Patrick Koller said the diesel scandal had “triggered two things: The regulations and a kind of antagonism between politicians and the industry.”
“This antagonism was counterproductive, and it happened in a very short period of time,” Koller added. “It’s my belief we ended up with (emissions) penalties because of this. These penalties are a real pain because if you have to pay them you can’t invest that money into transforming the industry.”
Vlad-Marius Botos, a newly elected member of the European Parliament from Romania, said EU legislators were committed to going carbon-neutral by 2050, but added, “We will do our best to ensure the internal market will not suffer: to meet targets.”
Botos, who worked as a manager for an automotive company, called for a better relationship between the automotive sector and legislators. “I know we can do better if we work together rather than fight and point fingers,” he said. “This time you are called to do more. You know as well as we do that this is the time to act on the environment.”

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