Fiat pledges to raise vehicle fuel efficiency

Italian car maker in deal with government to exceed European industry CO2 emissions offer

Italy's major car manufacturer, Fiat, is to reduce the fuel consumption of its fleet to achieve average carbon dioxide emissions of 136 grams per kilometre by 2010, the firm said on Friday.

Announced at a joint press conference with environment minister Edo Ronchi, the plan exceeds the European car industry's offer to achieve 144g/km by 2008 (ENDS Daily 11 March). Fiat has also pledged to introduce before 2000 a new model consuming less than 4.5 litres of fuel per 100km, which would emit just 120g of carbon dioxide per kilometre, which the European Commission would like to see as an average for the whole of the EU by 2005.

Fiat manufactured 12.5% of passenger cars registered in the EU in 1997 and also makes industrial and commercial vehicles under the Iveco brand. A planned overhaul of these vehicles should yield a 6% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions before 2005, the firm added.

Fiat's managing director Paolo Cantarella described the programme as "ambitious but realistic". He stressed the importance of technological innovation and the need for environmentally friendly car disposal. It is estimated that 85% of Fiat cars will be recyclable by 2002, and 95% by 2010.

Announcement of the plan follows signature last year of a memorandum of understanding between Fiat and the environment ministry, which outlined the need to reduce fuel consumption, promote the use of low-impact vehicles and devise cleaner methods to dispose of old cars.

Italy's environment minister Edo Ronchi said that Fiat's plan was "a significant step towards the implementation of the Kyoto principles". He confirmed that the Italian budget plan for 1999 to 2001, which was also announced on Friday, included an extension of Italy's new-for-old car replacement scheme (ENDS Daily 16 March). He also said that next year's budget would include "financial support for energy-efficient industrial products and processes". Cars are expected to feature prominently in any such incentive schemes.

The minister welcomed Fiat's launch of a new electric car, Seicento, which he drove around traffic-congested Piazza Venezia, in the centre of Rome. The government and other public institutions are likely to be the first buyers of the thousand or so vehicles currently on the Fiat production line (ENDS Daily 3 April).

Follow Up:
Fiat, tel: +39 11 686 3088, Italian environment ministry, tel: +39 6 70361.

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