Mercedes, BMW count on new plug-ins to meet CO2 targets

Automotive Industry

Source: Automotive News Europe, 2020-03-17

Mercedes-Benz and BMW are adding new plug-in hybrids as they step up their efforts to reduce CO2 emissions to meet tough EU targets.

Mercedes is expanding its low-emission offerings in its compact range with plug-in hybrid versions of its CLA coupe, CLA Shooting Brake station wagon and GLA SUV.

The cars have a 1.3-liter gasoline engine mated to a 75-kilowatt electric motor fed by a 15.6 kilowatt-hour battery pack. The drivetrain is already used in plug-in variants of the A class and B class.

Mercedes will also add seven plug-in hybrid versions with its revised E-class large sedan and wagon, including gasoline and diesel plug-ins.

Mercedes' parent Daimler aims to cut its CO2 emissions by 20% to comply with the EU’s CO2 reduction goals that came into effect this year. "We are within striking distance of meeting the target," CEO Ola Kallenius said.

"By the end of 2020, we want to double our sales of mild hybrids and quadruple the share of xEVs [plug-in vehicles]," Kallenius told reporters on a Web call in place of interviews planned for the canceled Geneva auto show.

More BMW plug-ins

BMW will expand its plug-in hybrid range this year to include the 3-series Touring wagon in both two-wheel-drive and all-wheel drive guises. An all-wheel-drive version of the existing 330e plug-in hybrid sedan will also join the line-up. Elsewhere in BMW’s range, it will add plug-in hybrid versions of the X1 and X2 compact SUVs.

BMW has seen sales of its battery electric and hybrid vehicles rise by 43% so far this year, CEO Oliver Zipse said. He was speaking to reporters on a separate Web call to Daimler’s.

BMW sales and marketing chief, Pieter Nota, said the automaker will reduce CO2 emissions in Europe by about 20% this year and so will be fully compliant with the new EU standards, both for 2020 and 2021.

BMW has said it aims to have more than 1m vehicles with electrified drive systems on the road by the end of 2021, in which time a quarter of its European sales will be electrified models.

The EU has set automakers a target to cut CO2 emissions by 40% between 2007 and 2021 to combat climate change, and has demanded a further 37.5% reduction by 2030. But pollution levels from cars have been rising as customers increasingly chose to buy gas-guzzling SUVs, meaning automakers need to ramp up sales of plug-in cars if they are to avoid hefty fines from 2021.

Each automaker has an individual target to meet the EU’s overall goal to reduce CO2 emissions from the bloc's new car fleet to 95 grams per km by the end of 2021. Daimler faces a €997m fine because it will not meet its 2021 target of 103.1 g/km because its emissions will fall to 114.1 g/km from 130.4 g/km now, according to an analysis by PSA Consulting.

BMW faces a €754m find because its emissions will decline to 110 g/km from 123.6 g/km today, missing its 102 g/km target.

Average fleet emissions for cars in Europe rose for the third year in a row in 2019 to 121.8 g/km, analysts at JATO Dynamics said on 3 March.

Supercredit help

Plug-in hybrids achieve very favorable CO2 emissions when paired to a big enough battery and, along with EVs, this year count double under the EU's super-credit system to help automakers achieve their targets.

Analyst firm LMC Automotive predict sales of plug-ins will increase to 717,000 in Europe this year from 198,853 in 2019, taking a 4% share to outsell full-electric cars. EV registrations will rise to 652,000 from 365,372 for a 3.6% share, LMC forecasts.

Electric cars are generally more expensive to build than gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles. But BMW said it was saving money, including by delaying the development of a next-generation Mini, to free up resources for the electric campaign.

"If a vehicle architecture does not need to be renewed, then we do not do it," Zipse said, adding the Mini was being renewed constantly by updating the powertrain and infotainment options. Around 7,000 electric Minis have been ordered so far, he said.

"We believe that we can keep the impact on profits under control," Zipse said, pledging that every car sold would be profitable.

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