Cautious or clueless?

Diesel
Future carbon dioxide limits for new passenger vehicles (fuel mix)

When you ask auto experts which country has been in the driver’s seat on the global electric vehicle market, they will point you to China. The number of EVs and plug-in hybrids sold in the People’s Republic went from 507,000 in 2016 straight up to 777,000 a year later, according to the Center of Automotive Management. The United States ranked second, with 194,000 vehicles sold, while Norway came in third, with 62,000 purchases.

Germany climbed from sixth to fourth place, with 54,000 units. EVs accounted for a remarkable 40 percent of all new vehicle registrations in Norway, up by 10 percentage points over 2016. Aside from the Nordic country and China, where EVs made up 2.7 percent of new registrations, growth was sluggish, with market shares of below 2 percent.

Several world regions have begun preparing for an all-electric future, but the chiefs of German automakers are apparently more interested in squabbling over details. After announcing a shift to electric transportation, they seem to have lost their appetite for action.

“Electric vehicles help keep the carbon footprint, but not the expenses, in check, at least for now.”

Dieter Zetsche, chief executive of Daimler

European Union sets carbon dioxide limits

Manufacturers should have enough incentive to make the transition, considering the growing constraints under which they operate. The European Union target is a fleet average of 95 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer in 2020. Automakers failing to meet that target will be fined for each vehicle registered that year.

Fiat Chrysler as well as Hyundai Kia have their work cut out for them. Both have focused too much on SUVs and the sales of gas guzzlers has since turned into a boomerang. BMW and GM can hardly relax either, although the former is benefitting from the i3’s relatively strong sales performance.

What route companies take to comply with emission limits is up to them. For example, Volkswagen is propping up CNG vehicles and has launched marketing campaigns for models such as Audi’s A4 g-tron, a car that sold out in fewer than five months. Furthermore, it wants to inject Audi e-gas into Germany’s pipelines to ensure that g-tron vehicles bought March 7 through May 31 are credited with an 80 percent reduction in fuel-related carbon dioxide emissions for three years.

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