Europe's New Emissions Laws May Threaten Our Sports Cars

Government

Think WLTP is harsh? Just wait.

If you've been paying attention to the news in the automotive industry lately, you've probably heard us mention something called WLTP. It stands for Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure and it is essentially Europe's newest guidelines for measuring fuel economy and emissions output. WLTP is extremely strict, even causing automakers to kill off some of their sporty models - the Volkswagen Golf GTI,Jaguar XJR 575, and F80 BMW M3 are all WLTP causalities.

Even plug-in hybrid vehicles have been hampered by WLTP regulations, despite their perceived efficiency. As automakers make adjustments to their lineups to meet WLTP regulations, Manager Magazin reports that the issue may get even worse.

This week, EU environmental ministers were locked in a 13-hour discussion, debating new CO2 standards for 2030. By the end of the debates, the EU came to the conclusion that new cars will need to produce 35% less carbon dioxide in 2030 than in 2020. The EU commission had originally proposed a 30% reduction, which German automakers believed to be feasible. Some countries wanted the reduction to be as high as 40%, though a compromise of 35% was reached with some countries claiming it was not strict enough. As part of the compromise, there will also be an interim goal of a 15% reduction by 2025.

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This is bad news for enthusiasts, who love big, powerful engines that emit high amounts of CO2. Automakers are already struggling to keep up with WLTP, so these stricter regulations don't bode well for the future of fast sports cars. There are some concessions to the rules, such as incentives for zero-emissions vehicles in poorer countries and special rules for niche manufacturers.

The rules are also based at the portfolio level, meaning automakers can build zero-emission electric vehicles to offset their gas engine models. Based on these rules, we will likely see more vehicles produced with the sole intention to meet emissions laws. Remember the Aston Martin Cygnet? It may not be long before something like it emerges once again.

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