Small carmakers producing under 1,000 vehicles per year are breathing a sigh of relief.
In news that will thrill well-heeled car collectors, the world's most desirable makers of low-volume exotics will be exempt from the European Union's 2035 ban on CO2 emissions from new vehicles. As we explained in greater detail a few days ago, this is not a ban on combustion-powered cars, but relates more specifically to the fuels that power them and the requirement - one way or another - for zero CO2 emissions from new cars from that year.
Still, transitioning to either fully electric vehicles or synthetic fuels was always going to be a major challenge for companies like Bugatti, Koenigsegg, and Pagani that make high-powered exotics that mostly rely on large-capacity engines. According to the official statement from the European Parliament, though, automakers "registering fewer than 1,000 new vehicles per year continue to be exempt."
Bugatti, which traditionally constructs its hand-built vehicles at an especially glacial pace, only produced 80 cars last year, including the 400th Chiron. That means it easily undercuts the 1,000-unit limit and would technically be able to continue selling high-powered supercars with gas engines after 2035 in Europe. Perhaps Mate Rimac knew Bugatti would be exempt from the ban, as he said last year that an electric Bugatti would not be coming in the next decade.
Koenigsegg's new CC850, revealed last year, has a 5.0-liter twin-turbo V8 making 1,363 horsepower. It's quite a guzzler, then, but the company is only building 70 of them. Annually, Koenigsegg only builds around 35 vehicles, so it's even further away from the 1,000-unit cap than Bugatti.
Just because Bugatti and Koenigsegg could theoretically continue building and selling polluting gas engines in Europe doesn't mean they won't invest in greener solutions, though. One advantage in Koenigsegg's favor is that many of its engines can run on E85 gas, which burns much cleaner than traditional gas, but gas mileage is a disadvantage.
As for Bugatti, a hybrid successor to the Chiron is expected in 2027, and Bugatti Rimac's link to Porsche means that it can more easily leverage the latter's eFuel technology as that becomes more viable.
Pagani hasn't even made 500 cars in total since its inception, so it is also protected from the 2035 ban as the rules stand now.
The possibility exists for these brands to see production increase rapidly over the next 12 years, but we also think the people running them are shrewd enough to pare back production to undercut the 1,000-car threshold.
Some niche brands in the UK, such as Morgan, BAC, and Ginetta, would also be exempt from the 2035 ban due to their low production numbers, reports Autocar.
Thanks to Brexit, these marques are exempt from the new rules in the UK itself, too, at least for now. "This will for sure open more doors for us," said Neill Briggs, co-founder of BAC, in response to the exemption from the ban in the EU. Representatives from the other small automakers in the UK expressed similar opinions, as they will be able to continue exporting a small number of cars to Europe.
So, while combustion engines running on traditional gas have been given another lifeline in Europe, it would be shortsighted for even these smaller carmakers not to invest in greener fuels or EVs. As similar bans are inevitable in the USA, enthusiasts will be hoping for a similar exemption for supercar manufacturers. Even if we can't afford these exotics, it's comforting that they'll be around in a familiar form for at least a little longer.
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