Car makers were hoping for a tough stance from the European Parliament on vehicle emissions legislation this week – a move that will allow them to get on with development of clean-burning engines.
Yesterday, the parliament was expected to reject European Union proposals on vehicle emissions because they are not tough enough. The move is set to hasten the introduction of stricter standards for cleaner fuels, particularly low-sulphur fuel.
Car makers are banking on this outcome as it will open the way for them to get on with development of gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines – likely to be a key part in their strategy to improve fuel efficiency.
Low sulphur fuel is crucial to their plan because GDI engines use a catalytic converter that can only run on this type of clean fuel.
‘The industry needs to know that in 2005 ultra-low-sulphur fuel will be here,’ said Dr Pelham Hawker, Johnson Matthey Catalytic Systems division sales and marketing director. ‘The car industry has had to bear the brunt of emissions legislation. It’s time the fuel industry pitched in and helped.’
The parliament has already tried in vain to tighten the proposals, which originated from consultations between the European Commission, car makers and the oil industry last year.
Meanwhile, there is an impasse over what level of CO2 emissions can be achieved by 2005. The car industry says a realistic lower limit is 150gm per litre of fuel burnt. The Commission is calling for 120gm/litre.