By Barbara Lewis and Laurence Frost
BRUSSELS/PARIS, Sept 27 Germany has enlisted
French carmakers' support for a last-ditch bid to delay
implementation of EU carbon dioxide limits by four years,
government officials and diplomats said on Friday.
Berlin wants to re-open and weaken draft car emissions rules
agreed in June by introducing the phase-in period, under a
proposal circulated by German diplomats and seen by Reuters.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's government is engaged in an
uphill struggle to water down the deal to cut average new car
emissions to 95 grammes of CO2 per kilometre by 2020.
Germany has so far been unable to secure support from a
blocking minority of governments to dilute the new rules, ahead
of a vote scheduled next week.
But Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroen have
broken ranks with Paris to side with their Germany-based
industrial partners Daimler, BMW and
General Motors' Opel division, officials said.
"We became aware of this common industry position last
week," a French ministry official said. Germany is expected to
"use it to press the new demands", the official added.
Renault and Peugeot, which had raised no previous objections
to the proposed CO2 limits, declined to comment on whether they
now supported Germany's bid to loosen the rules.
Renault and Peugeot have previously said they stand to gain
competitive advantage from new CO2 limits, thanks to the smaller
than average size and fuel consumption of the cars they sell.
"Peugeot has already taken the 2020 targets into account and
is well on track to meet them - while also aware that they are
tough," a spokeswoman said.
But the French carmakers have come under pressure from their
respective alliance partners to adopt a common stance on CO2.
Renault and Japanese affiliate Nissan share a growing number
of engines and vehicle platforms with Daimler.
Peugeot is hoping to renew a major engine-sharing deal with
BMW and developing future vehicles with 7 percent shareholder
General Motors and its Germany-based Opel division.
Renault executives often discuss the company's regulatory
stance with Daimler counterparts, a source close to the French
carmaker said. "Renault and Daimler talk a lot about this kind
Merkel intervened in June to prevent an earlier scheduled
vote, after senior German officials unsuccessfully pressured
other governments to oppose the draft, warning of possible
consequences for cooperation in other areas.
Under the latest German proposal the average CO2 emissions
limit of 95 grammes per kilometre would apply only to 80 percent
of cars produced in 2020, rising by 5 percentage points each
year to reach full implementation only in 2024.
The final rules should be "designed in a way that
manufacturers are enabled to reach the 2020 target in the most
cost-effective way", the German proposal says. "Therefore they
need more flexibility in the transition phase."