GM Says EU Emissions Targets A 'Stretch'

New standard would limit emission to 130 grams of CO2 per kilometer.

General Motors president Rick Wagoner on March 6 said that new emissions targets the EU is preparing to impose would prove to be a "stretch" for the world's biggest carmaker. "GM supports the goal of reducing CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions. Although the Commission's current proposal is a significant stretch, we're working hard to do our part," Wagoner said at the opening of the Geneva Motor Show.

Under a European Commission proposal unveiled last month, car manufacturers would be required to limit engine emissions to an average of 130 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer across their fleet within five years to combat climate change. Currently they face a voluntary target of 160 grams, which most carmakers say they are going to miss.

"Ultimately we believe that environmental goals can be accomplished most effectively with an integrated approach that engages automakers, fuel providers, governments and consumers," Wagoner said.

The controversial Commission targets, which still have to be endorsed by the 27 member states later this year, were the subject of heavy bargaining. EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen clashed with Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas over how much of an effort should come from carmakers. Dimas had sought a tougher binding limit of 120 grams for carmakers while Verheugen wanted measures to be shared with tire, equipment and fuel makers.

Wagoner indicated he wanted to see more support from the European Commission for cleaner ethanol produced from crops or vegetable matter. "We look to European Commission to help create a strong policy framework to develop the E85 infrastructure," Wagoner said. E85 is the most readily available biofuel that can be used in slightly modified existing engine technology, blending 85% of ethanol with 15% of petrol.

GM underlined that a range of alternative fuels -- ethanol, hydrogen and electricity -- as well as a more efficient traditionally fuelled cars, would underpin its recovery from massive financial trouble in recent years.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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