Carmakers told to green up their acts or else
By 2015, automakers will either have to raise their vehicles’ average fuel economy to 17 kilometers per liter (40 miles per gallon) or reduce carbon dioxide emissions to an average 140 grams per kilometer, the Presidential Committee on Green Growth announced yesterday.
“Korean vehicles’ average fuel economy is only 70 percent of Japanese- and U.S.-made vehicles,” said Woo Ki-jong, secretary general of the committee.
As of 2007, Korean vehicles’ fuel efficiency rating was 11 kilometers per liter, far behind the 15.7 averaged by those made by the Japanese.
Previous Korean government regulations pegged fuel economy at 14.5 kilometers per liter for vehicles with engine capacities below 1600 cc and 11.2 kilometers per liter for those above 1600 cc. These were to be implemented in 2012.
Carbon dioxide emissions of Korean cars are higher than that of Japanese vehicles. As of 2007, a Korean car’s average carbon dioxide emission was 201 grams per kilometer while Japanese cars were 152 grams per kilogram. The new set of rules will be partially implemented in 2012 and will become fully effective in 2015.
Korea’s fuel economy regulation is stricter than the 15 kilometers per liter set by the U.S. government. Additionally, the regulation deadline is set a year earlier than the American target.
The carbon dioxide regulation, however, is less severe than the European standard of 130 grams per kilometer as Koreans tend to prefer driving vehicles with automatic transmissions while Europeans still enjoy handling a stick shift.
In 2012, only 30 percent of the vehicles manufactured by an automaker will be regulated under the new system. That number will increase to 60 percent in 2013 and 80 percent in 2014. In 2015 all vehicles will be regulated under the system.
The presidential committee said the dual system is the first in the world and that it was designed to cushion the economic burden placed on car companies.
“The dual system provides a choice for automakers,” said Woo. “Some automakers have a competitive edge in fuel economy while others have better carbon dioxide reduction technology. Companies can choose a system that benefits them the most.”
The government said it will likely implement a penalty system starting in 2012. Details on the possible penalties have not been released.
The government said it plans to adopt a system of incentives for consumers to buy vehicles with low carbon emissions or high fuel economies. The system is likely to be patterned after France’s bonus-malus system, which provides government subsidies of between 200 euros ($279) and 5,000 euros to those who buy a vehicle with CO2 emissions under 130 grams per kilometer while charging an extra 200-2,600 euros to those who buy vehicles generating 160 grams per kilometer or more of CO2.
The new regulations are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 8 million tons by 2015 and by some 25 million tons by 2020.
By Lee Ho-jeong [email@example.com]