Luxury Automakers Ponder Carbon Cuts, Hyundai Aims to Be ‘Green Leader’

by | Oct 13, 2009

ElantraLPiLuxury automakers like Lamborghini, Ferrari, Bentley, and Aston Martin still lag behind the industry average for carbon-dioxide emissions just as standards tighten in Europe and the U.S., reports Bloomberg News. Asian automakers like Hyundai, however, are light years ahead and aim to become “green” leaders in the auto industry.

Only now are luxury automakers retooling engines, building frames with carbon fibers and improving exhaust systems, and even Aston Martin plans a model with a 1-liter engine, reports Bloomberg News.

But still, luxury automakers like Lamborghini walk a fine line because they don’t want to engineer green cars at the expense of their status symbols — defined by high performance — but they also don’t want their status symbols to be blamed by consumers as contributors to global warming, reports Bloomberg News.

Ferrari’s 458 leads, with a super car best of 307 grams of CO2 per kilometer and a Formula One racing gearbox, while Lamborghini’s Gallardo Spyder emits about 400 grams of CO2 a kilometer, though it aims to lower emissions by an average of 35 percent by 2015, reports Bloomberg.

However, European regulators are set to enforce emissions standards that require carmakers to cut average CO2 emissions by 20 percent to 130 grams a kilometer by 2015, and may enact an average cap of 95 grams in 2020, according to the article.

In the U.S., new passenger vehicles must achieve a fleet average of 27.5 mpg, and by 2016 cars must achieve an average of 35.5 mpg, reports Bloomberg. Automakers will pay fines when they exceed the limits.

Luxury car makers like Volkswagen AG’s Lamborghini that are part of larger auto companies can consider themselves part of the parent or ask for unique CO2 emissions goals, reports Bloomberg. VW also owns Bentley and Bugatti while Ferrari and Maserati are owned by Fiat. Rolls-Royce’s parent, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, also makes 1-series BMWs and the Mini.

Lamborghini made 2,430 cars last year, roughly the number of VW Golf models produced in a day, which means a tiny reduction in Golf CO2 output would cover all Lamborghini emissions, reports Bloomberg.

Meanwhile Japanese automakers like Hyundai Motor Company are working on developing green cars like the i10 Electric, Elantra LPI Hybrid, the U.S.-focused Blue range, and the Blue-WILL and ix-Metro concepts, reports The Motor Report.

Hyundai Motor Company, South Korea’s leading automaker, unveiled its “green management” plan, called Blue Drive, to develop low-carbon, fuel-efficient vehicles that reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, according to the company’s 2009 Sustainability Report (PDF).

The report cites the Elantra LPi Hybrid, launched in July 2009 as the world’s first hybrid vehicle to be powered by LPG liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), which marks the start of Hyundai’s Blue Drive era.

Aimed at becoming a global green leader by 2015, Hyundai has set a target to achieve a fleet average fuel economy of 6.7 l/100km by 2015, which have been set by federal governments in the U.S. and Canada, though they won’t go into affect until 2020, according to The Motor Report.

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