Search

 

Cablegate: Bmw On Eu Co2 Rules, French Influence, and Future of The

VZCZCXRO8320
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMZ #0100/01 0671134
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 071134Z MAR 08
FM AMCONSUL MUNICH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4320
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEU/EU INTEREST COLLECTIVE
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MUNICH 000100

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD PGOV EINV PREL FR GM
SUBJECT: BMW ON EU CO2 RULES, FRENCH INFLUENCE, AND FUTURE OF THE
AUTOMOBILE

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) A senior BMW official told ConGen Munich that proposed EU
rules on auto carbon emissions would not only be ineffective, but
represent French "industrial policy," rewarding manufacturers of
low-tech small cars and punishing Germany's manufacturers of larger,
more carbon-efficient, vehicles. To meet stricter regulations, BMW
has made substantial investments in a mix of technologies the firm
says will allow it continue producing high-performance vehicles
customers demand while reducing carbon output. BMW sees a future
that includes a place for multiple fuel sources, ranging from diesel
to hydrogen. Regardless of the outcome of the EU policy debate,
BMW's aggressive investment in clean technology, in-part driven by
the threat of EU regulation, is already allowing the firm to market
its "green" attributes, helping ensure the survival of the
automobile, and BMW, in the future.

---------------------------------------------
EU RULES REPRESENT FRENCH "INDUSTRIAL POLICY"
---------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) ConGen Munich met with Dr. Thomas Becker, BMW's V.P. for
Intergovernmental Affairs to discuss BMW's view of EU environmental
regulations, and the company's strategy to meet increasingly
stringent emissions rules. When asked about BMW's view of proposed
EU regulations that aim to set a manufacturers' fleet-average limit
of 120 g/km of CO2 by 2012, Becker did not mince words. He told us
the rule reflected misguided EU policy that would reward the auto
industries of France and Italy for building small and light, but
technologically inferior, automobiles, while punishing German
manufacturers for building larger, but more advanced vehicles.
Becker added that the current proposal was a result of heavy-handed
lobbying in Brussels by the countries that manufacture primarily
small cars -- France, and to a lesser extent, Italy, Slovenia and
Romania. The proposal represented nothing less than "French
industrial policy" being carried out by the EU.

3. (SBU) Becker said French officials did not even attempt to
disguise their proposals as environmental measures. Rather, they
were very open about the rules being designed to weaken German car
manufacturers to benefit French companies like PSA (manufacturer of
Peugeot and Citroen). Becker said the French were even going so far
as to present their industrial policy as egalitarian social policy,
quoting PSA CEO Christian Streiff saying in a press interview "The
European government can't accept that the rich damage the
environment more than the less affluent...one gram CO2 must be one
gram for each citizen. There must be no discrimination."

-----------------------
EU'S METHODOLOGY FLAWED
-----------------------

4. (U) Becker said BMW supported in principle the EU's attempt to
introduce mandatory limits for vehicle emissions. The current
draft, however, was not only unfair, but would not lead to a
substantial reduction in CO2 emissions. Instead of using the
average CO2 output of a manufacturer's entire product-line, as
called for under the current EU proposal, BMW would rather see a
system that would set ambitious but achievable goals for different
weight classes of vehicles. Becker observed that the current
fleet-average proposal would treat equally the worst-polluting small
car and the best performing large luxury sedan, even though the
larger car was actually much more CO2 efficient due to the
manufacturer's investment in cutting-edge technology. However, a
weight-class based system would pit small cars against small cars,
and larger cars against similarly large vehicles, thus exposing a
manufacturers' real CO2 efficiency. For example, if BMW could get
the CO2 output of a relatively large 5-Series sedan down to even the
vicinity of that of a small Renault Twingo, it would reveal which
manufacturer had really made strides to cut CO2 output (read BMW).
Additionally a weight-class based system would help ensure the
preservation of customer choice, given that not everyone wants to be
forced to buy a Renault Twingo-sized car in order to reduce carbon
output.

5. (U) Becker explained the EU's method of measuring CO2 output is
also flawed. Tests are performed with vehicle accessories, such as
air conditioning, radio, lights, and windshield wipers, turned-off,
which is not a "real world" scenario. The problem, Becker noted, is
there is little incentive for manufactures to improve efficiency of
the various systems in the car, as their impact is not measured.
Furthermore, EU testing guidelines ignore manufacturers'
recommendations for shifting points - arbitrarily requiring shifting

MUNICH 00000100 002 OF 003


to a higher gear at a set RPM, even if the manufacturer called for
shifting-up at a lower RPM. Another problem was the lack of
synchronization of the regulatory framework with manufacturers'
development cycles, as the proposed CO2 requirements would not be
phased-in, but would apply equally to "state of the art" cars on the
market in 2012 and older designs nearing the end of their product
life-cycle.

6. (U) Becker was also highly critical of the penalties proposed by
the EU, saying they were too high. Starting in 2012, if a
manufacturer exceeded the 120 g/km limit of CO2 it would face a
penalty of 20 Euros per gram over the limit, multiplied by the
number of cars it sold in the EU that year. By 2015 that penalty
would increase to 95 Euros -- a company with unit sales of 1,000,000
vehicles in Europe whose fleet exceeded the limit by 10 grams would
face a fine of nearly 1 billion Euros. Becker said it made no sense
to penalize the automotive industry with a price of 95 Euros per
gram, when the "market price" for carbon for other industries, such
as electricity generation, was 20 Euros per gram, based on carbon
trading.

--------------------------------------
BERLIN STANDING UP FOR GERMAN INDUSTRY
--------------------------------------

7. (SBU) When asked if BMW thought the German government was doing
enough to defend German manufacturers from this alleged
French-inspired "industrial policy," Becker said he thought it was.
He said it had come as a surprise to French officials that the
German government was standing behind domestic car manufacturers,
and that this support cut across party affiliations and ministries.
Nevertheless, Becker said a viable compromise was unlikely this year
as France would take over the EU Presidency July 1 and could be
expected to manipulate the outcome of any discussions. Becker said
that as much as BMW would like to see the EU policy made more
rational, it would not want to see wrangling over the legislation
dragged-out until the last minute, as the company prefers regulatory
certainty to the unknown. If given clear regulations, even bad
regulations, BMW engineers would at least have something to go to
work on leading up to 2012.

--------------------------------------------- -
TOMORROW'S CAR -- SALVATION THROUGH TECHNOLOGY
--------------------------------------------- -

8. (U) Becker repeatedly made the point that BMW was not opposed to
building cleaner cars, adding that BMW's view is that customers
should not have to compromise between an environmentally sound
product and one that offers high-performance and comfort - a concept
BMW calls "EfficientDynamics." To illustrate the benefits of
EfficientDynamics, Becker used the example of the BMW X5 "Vision"
SUV hybrid concept vehicle, unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show on
March 6. BMW claims the SUV is the most efficient vehicle of its
size in the world, with virtually the same performance as a normal
X5, but achieving 43.5 MPG and just 172g/km of CO2 emissions. In
contrast, a normal gasoline-powered X5 with a 3.0 liter engine gets
just 18 mpg (according to EPA estimates), and emits 244g/km of CO2.

9. (U) BMW achieved this efficiency with electric-hybrid technology
combined with a twin-turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine, an
eight-speed automatic gearbox and roof-mounted solar panels. In
addition, BMW used "Brake Energy Regeneration," generating
electricity from the kinetic energy that would normally be converted
into heat during braking. BMW says all of these technologies will
start appearing in its production cars as early as 2010. As a
result of the company's research into CO2 reduction, BMW says it was
able to reduce the CO2 emissions of its fleet by seven percent in
2007, and by the end of 2008 will have cut fleet CO2 emissions by 25
percent from 1995 levels.

-----------------------------------------
FUTURE WILL REQUIRE A MIX OF FUEL SOURCES
-----------------------------------------

10. (U) Becker said BMW foresees a future in which no single
propulsion technology will replace today's internal-combustion
engine. The company is particularly bullish on diesel technology --
already used in 67 percent of the cars BMW sells in Europe. Becker
said BMW's latest generation of diesels offer the performance of a
gasoline engine, but with dramatically improved fuel-economy and
lower CO2 output. Becker said a key element of BMW's U.S. strategy
is to promote the advantages of diesels now that cleaner low-sulfur
diesel fuel is widely available in the U.S. Becker related how BMW
currently produces diesel engines in Austria, ships them to
Spartanburg, South Carolina where they are integrated into X5 SUVs,
which are then shipped back to Europe - none of the diesels remain
in the U.S.

MUNICH 00000100 003 OF 003

11. (U) Becker said BMW would like to see common standards between
the U.S. and EU on biofuels, and strongly supports the Transatlantic
Economic Council's (TEC) efforts in this regard. Becker said BMW
would also like to see minimum sustainability standards worldwide
for biofuel production, specifically mentioning Brazil. While BMW
believes the current crop of hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius,
doesn't offer significant advantages over the newest clean diesels,
the company is exploring ways to integrate hybrid technology in new
ways, as with the diesel-hybrid X5 Vision, and even a steam-hybrid
concept that recaptures exhaust heat and uses it to provide
additional boost to the engine.

12. (U) Becker said BMW's fleet of 100 "CleanEnergy"
hydrogen-powered 7-Series sedans, about 25 of which are in the U.S.,
is an attempt to demonstrate that hydrogen fuel-cell technology is
viable from the manufacturer's perspective. Another objective is to
promote investment in a hydrogen infrastructure, such as production
facilities and fueling stations. While hydrogen remains very
energy-intensive to produce at present, BMW foresees the possibility
of large-scale hydrogen production from renewable sources such as
wind and solar in the future.

-------
COMMENT
-------

13. (SBU) We were not expecting an endorsement of the EU's
carbon-reduction proposals from BMW. We were, however, a little
surprised by the extent to which BMW believes France manipulates EU
environmental policy to the benefit of its own industry. We also
found it notable that BMW feels the Merkel government in Berlin is
"going to bat" in the EU for the auto manufacturers, apparently
viewing the proposed regulations from Brussels as an existential
threat to Germany's most important industry. We were impressed by
the breadth of BMW's research across the spectrum of clean
technologies - clearly the company is preparing for the "worst" from
Brussels. France's nationalistic intentions aside, it would appear
the threat of harsh regulations from the EU is driving auto
manufacturers to push the technological envelope - something that,
ironically, may ensure that the automobile, and companies like BMW,
remain viable components of the transportation mix of the
carbon-conscious years ahead.

14. (U) This report has been coordinated with Embassy Berlin.

15. (U) Previous reporting from Munich is available on our SIPRNET
website at www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/munich/ .

NELSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC