The Association of European Automobile manufacturers (ACEA) has rejected a European Commission proposal to introduce legislation that would require vehicles to meet carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions limits.

European vehicle manufacturers currently have a voluntary agreement to bring emissions from new cars down to 140 milligrams per kilometre (mg/km) by 2008 and 120mg/km by 2012. The Commission has been threatening to impose legislation for several months if voluntary commitments fail to meet targets.

A spokeswoman for European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, told AFX news that 'following the review of the carbon dioxide emissions by cars, Commissioner Dimas is proposing legislation. 'Reports seem to indicate that the voluntary commitments may not be delivering what was expected,' she added.

In a statement, ACEA said that comments by Commissioner Dimas made last Friday imply that car manufacturers do not respect their CO2 commitments.

The association said that the car industry recognises the decrease in CO2 emissions has recently slowed, blaming this on strong customer demand for larger and safer vehicles and disappointing consumer acceptance of extremely fuel-efficient cars, which have been brought into the market in line with the CO2 Commitment.

AFX news reported that an October study by the European Federation for Transport and Environment showed that only five of the 20 major car brands sold in Europe had improved fuel efficiency at the rate needed to meet a key EU climate target.

In 2004, cars sold in Europe by native manufacturers emitted an average of 161 mg/km, those made in Japan produced 170 mg/km and South Korean manufacturers' cars were responsible for 168 mg/km.

EU plans CO2 limit law