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Daimler struggling with European emissions standards

2018-01-17 09:22

TOUGH TARGET: Dieter Zetsche, CEO of the maker of Mercedes-Benz luxury vehicles, told reporters he "can't guarantee" to meet tightening emission standards in 2021. Image: AP / Carlos Osorio

Detroit  - The chief executive of Daimler said Monday at the Detroit auto show that his company cannot currently guarantee it can meet tougher European CO2 emissions standards taking effect in several years.

Dieter Zetsche, CEO of the maker of Mercedes-Benz luxury vehicles, told reporters he "can't guarantee" to meet tightening emission standards in 2021.

95g of CO2 per km by 2021

"It's a huge challenge for everyone," he told AFP later in an interview. "We will make it. That's our intention. But I can't guarantee it."

A regulation adopted in 2014 requires vehicle manufacturers selling vehicles in the European Union to reach, with some exceptions, a level of 95 grams of CO2 emitted per kilometer by early 2021, compared to 130 grams in 2015.

Manufacturers that fail will be fined €95 per car and gram of excess CO2. This could potentially lead to fines in the tens or hundreds of millions of euros.

Daimler AG Chairman Dieter Zetsche, stands with former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, right, after the world premiere of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Image: AP / Carlos Osorio 

Fellow automotive CEO Sergio Marchionne of Fiat Chrysler said he understood Daimler's predicament, and his company was also looking at how to meet the tougher standards -- with non-compliance not an option.

"We've gone through this. It ain't pretty," he said, regarding the cost of fines.

"Having said this, we have no intention of pulling vehicles, because we think we can meet the standards."

German automakers relying on diesel for lower emissions

German manufacturers, whose large engines emit more CO2 than smaller models, are struggling to achieve the goals, according to experts.

So far, they have relied on diesel to reduce emissions. But diesel engine cars have fallen out of favor with consumers and sales have dropped, exacerbated by the Volkswagen diesel emissions cheating scandal.

"It's dragged all of us into the very uncomfortable state where we are now on the defensive continuously about the utilization of diesel in the market," Marchionne said.

To help comply with the new standards, manufacturers are developing a range of electric vehicles, with no certainty about the real-world demand from consumers. 

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