Green car makers urged to go a step further

Mar 04, 2009 by Peter Capella
The new Opel Ampera hybrid-electric vehicle is displayed during the second media day at the 79th Geneva Car Show in Geneva. Four international bodies on Wednesday called on governments and car makers to halve global vehicle emissions by 2050 as the auto industry insisted it was serious about producing greener vehicles.

Four international bodies on Wednesday called on governments and car makers to halve global vehicle emissions by 2050 as the auto industry insisted it was serious about producing greener vehicles.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP), International Energy Agency, International Transport Forum and motoring's FIA Foundation, in a statement at the Geneva Auto Show, urged that the fuel economy target be considered part of economic aid for the industry.

UNEP executive director Achim Steiner told AFP in Geneva: "I think there area number of companies here who will now bet on a quantum leaps in energy efficiency.

"But a lot will depend on whether the consumer will be punished for buying fuel efficiency by having to pay more for it," he added, suggesting that the industry had dragged its feet for years.

Most of the 120 new or modified cars launched on preview days ahead of the show's opening on Thursday offered fuel-saving or lower emissions features, as struggling auto makers seek to reverse plunging demand.

Volkswagen chairman Martin Winterkorn claimed the trend was not a passing fad and that "ecological demand" could save car makers from the brunt of the economic crisis.

"The future is green," he declared as the company launched a new sub-compact Polo, claiming eight percent less weight, more economy and lower emissions.

Hybrids, combining petrol or diesel engines and electric power, were more widespread in Geneva, while engines were generally getting smaller, more economical and more plug-in electric vehicles emerged on the stands.

With wider use of those existing technologies, six billion barrels of oil a year could easily be saved by 2050 despite an expected trebling of the world car fleet, according to an initiative launched by the four agencies.

Luxury car maker Bentley unveiled a powerful new sports version of its coupe, but engineered for "flexfuel," allowing the option of a tankful of petrol or of biofuels that can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 70 percent, according to the maker.

"Everyone will have to do something," said communications director James Rosenthal, underlining that car makers will soon "no longer be able to rely on oil."

The surge in oil prices up to 147 dollars a barrel last year and the resulting impact on the motorist's pocket helped spur the trend, since fuel economy generally equates with lower carbon emissions.

But political pressure also counted.

After years of negotiations, the European Union last year adopted tougher, compulsory 130-gramme-per-kilometre average emissions cap for new car ranges from 2012, and the industry is scrambling to meet that target.

Peugeot chief executive Jean-Philippe Collin pointed to a combination of ways to achieve "environmental positioning."

"There's not just one single technology, there's electric, diesel, petrol, diesel hybrid, and micro-hybrids," he explained.

General Motors unveiled the Opel Ampera in Geneva, a saloon car powered by by an electric motor that can be charged by a small petrol engine or plugged into a household socket.

It could produce zero emissions or about half the usual amount of a petrol- or diesel-fuelled equivalent.

Opel hopes to put the car on sale in 2010, but GM Europe president Carl Peter Forster underlined that some everyday practical obstacles could stifle its subsequent progress.

"Its success in the market will be equally dependent on governments ... putting in place comprehensive policy frameworks that send complementary signals to electricity providers and consumers," Forster said.

Among the needs are revised building codes to allow plug-in garages, daytime charging rates for electricity, and an adequate infrastructure of sockets.

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: Old timey car to replace NYC horse carriages shown

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Driverless cars

Nov 21, 2013

At first glance, the cars look like they are performing an everyday manoeuvre. It is 12 November, and three cars are driving in a convoy on the motorway. The rear vehicle passes the middle vehicle and returns ...

Predicting an electric future

Mar 28, 2012

Experts at Northumbria University have developed a formula to predict the impact that electric cars will have on the nation’s power supplies. 

Recommended for you

Obama launches measures to support solar energy in US

10 hours ago

The White House Thursday announced a series of measures aimed at increasing solar energy production in the United States, particularly by encouraging the installation of solar panels in public spaces.

Tailored approach key to cookstove uptake

10 hours ago

Worldwide, programs aiming to give safe, efficient cooking stoves to people in developing countries haven't had complete success—and local research has looked into why.

Wireless power transfer achieved at five-meter distance

10 hours ago

The way electronic devices receive their power has changed tremendously over the past few decades, from wired to non-wired. Users today enjoy all kinds of wireless electronic gadgets including cell phones, ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus ne ...