The European Commission today proposed a tough new law to cut average CO2 emissions from vans.

The UK's Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said the auto industry remains committed to the continued reduction of road transport emissions and now urges European policy-makers to make the legal framework "more supportive and realistic" in a move towards a low carbon economy.
 
The commission wants to set van makers a fleet average target of 175g CO2/km or 42.8 mpg from 2014, phased in to 2016. But, with seven year product development cycles in the van and light commercial vehicle market, automakers feel the lead-times are too short to allow the delivery of affordable products to the market, the SMMT said.
 
"Vans are an integral part of the European economy and at a time of economic downturn and belt tightening, businesses do not have the capacity to invest in new products," said chief executive Paul Everitt.

"Industry needs sufficient lead times and reasonable targets to provide affordable products. These must be fit for purpose as business tools. In the current economic climate, the EU regulation must maintain the sector's diversity while encouraging innovation and the move to low carbon models."
 
Across the EU, demand for vans fell 35% this year. UK demand was down 41% in the first nine months of 2009 and is forecast to end the year 37% down on 2008. Any new legislation should take the economic situation, as well as the diversity of the sector and its specific characteristics into account.
 
The SMMT said automakers would now work with the European Council and parliament to develop the proposal into a workable piece of legislation that "delivers for the environment as well as for the economy".

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