Europe’s automakers are adapting to the strict emissions levels set forth by the European Union, according to JATO Consult, a U.K.-based research company. It reports that for 2008, the industry as a whole produced an average of 153.7 g/km of CO2 emissions per vehicle. The corresponding figure for 2007 is unavailable. The combined figure of the 10 best marques in terms of CO2 emissions was 150.51 in 2008, down from 154.54 in 2007.
For the second year, the Fiat marque topped the chart with an average of 133.7 g/km of CO2 released, an improvement from its winning 137.3 g/km level in 2007 and an important step in meeting the 130 g/km level mandated by 2015 for each automaker.
“The result of this important analysis rewards Fiat’s ongoing quest for innovative solutions for the reduction of polluting emissions and levels of carbon dioxide," said Lorenzo Sistino, Managing Director of Fiat Automobiles. "Our aim is to reinforce our European record in emissions reduction by introducing new engines, new technologies, and new applications. New engines, such as those with our innovative MultiAir system [electrohydraulic intake valves] will gradually be installed in all our [Fiat] Group cars and will enable further reductions in consumption and emissions. New technologies like Start&Stop, already introduced in the Fiat 500 and soon to be seen on all our latest models, will play their part, as will new applications like eco:Drive, an innovative software developed with Microsoft that uses a USB port from the versatile Blue&Me [entertainment] system to achieve analysis of the driver’s vehicle handling, thus helping to optimize behavior in terms of consumption and emissions. Currently, there are about 10,000 regular users who monitor their driving style in this way.”
Fiat has managed the reductions through intensive development with automatic engine shutoff systems, low-rolling-resistance tires, low-viscosity oils, aerodynamic packages, and modified transmissions. Liquid natural gas and methane fuels are also a large factor in the dramatic lead over the other manufacturers, as methane shows a 23% reduction in CO2 emissions. Dual-fuel versions, as well as Multijet technology on Fiat’s diesels, combined with engine downsizing and the addition of turbos, allow fuel savings without significant performance losses. The MultiAir intake system currently on the two-cylinder engine uses dual-fuel management to combine gasoline with a mixture of 70% methane and 30% hydrogen; a more complete fuel burn results in reduced emissions.
Peugeot is the only other individual marque to meet the 140 g/km CO2 level required by 2008. The results are volume-weighted and apply to sedans, wagons, hatchbacks, SUVs, crossovers, and minivans, but not to pickup trucks, cargo vans, or passenger vans with more than nine seats.
The single-marque results are promising and show a significant average reduction of 5.3 g/km over the past 12 months. BMW showed the most improvement, with a drop of 16.1 g/km over the year. Citroën showed an increase of 0.2 g/km over its vehicle line in 2008 due to the release of several larger models.
The top 10 places are held by the same manufacturers as in 2007. The improvement is impressive, considering that the number and functionality of safety features (and, consequently, vehicle mass) is constantly on the rise.
Automakers as whole entities—such as Fiat with its marques Lancia and Alfa Romeo (Ferrari and Maserati are considered outside of Fiat S.P.A.)—had higher overall averages in 2008, but both Fiat and PSA Peugeot-Citroën met, or came very close to, the 140 g/km figure.
Figures for the report came from 21 countries, 19 of which are EU members.