The European Union approved Wednesday a bill that will tighten limits on carbon dioxide emissions from new cars from the current level of 162 g/km to 130g/km by the year 2012. The controversial regulation will apply to all cars manufactured in EU countries as well as cars imported into the EU from Korea, Japan, and elsewhere.
The bill in its original state set the emission level at a stricter 120 g/km, but it was eased to 130 g/km after opposition from European car manufacturers and Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany. Germany is home to several leading car makers.
Despite the loosened criteria, European automakers are unhappy with the bill. In 1998, European car makers agreed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 140 g/km by 2008 or 2009. Most of them failed to do so.
The EU plans to encourage carmakers to develop new ways to reduce emissions, like refining engine technology, using more biofuels, improving tires and enhancing air-conditioning efficiency.
Experts point out that Korean car makers have a lot of work ahead of them if they are to meet the new regulations.
"The current environment-friendly diesel technology is not enough to lower carbon dioxide emissions below 120 g/km," said Kim Tae-nyeon, a trade analyst at the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association. Developing hybrid electric-gasoline cars would be essential, he predicted. While carbon dioxide emissions from environment-friendly diesel engines are 20 to 30 percent less than gasoline cars, hybrids emit 40 to 50 percent less.
"The emission of carbon dioxide is directly connected to fuel efficiency, so without the development of superior fuel-saving automobiles, exports to EU countries and other advanced countries might face difficulties," Kim added.
Cho Chul, a researcher at the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade, said that Korean automakers should work toward the new emission standards as sales of mid- and large-sized Korean cars grow in Europe. "More active investment in the research and development of environment-friendly cars is needed as well," Cho added.