European car makers are coming under increasing pressure to meet tightening fuel economy rules, and BMW and Volkswagen are most at risk from incurring massive fines which would reach up $1 billion if they fail, according to a report from PA Consulting.

Other manufacturers exposed to big fines include British based and Tata of India owned Jaguar Land Rover and Hyundai of Korea and its Kia affiliate. The European subsidiaries General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Autos (FCA) are ahead of the game, according to the report. Ford Europe is on plan currently, but might find it hard to meet final reductions to meet 2021 targets, the report said.

All automotive manufacturers operating in Europe will have to sharply raise the amount of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in their fleets. At the moment these vehicles barely feature on European roads.

“If the German manufacturers are to meet their targets they will need to look at bold measures to increase the number of electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) vehicles in their fleets. We calculate that to meet the targets, BMW, Audi and Volkswagen will need 25 percent of their European registrations (sales) to be of cars with alternative engines in 2021,” the report said.

Mass market Volkswagen owns premium Audi.

A further complicating factor could be fall-out from the Volkswagen “dieselgate” gate scandal. This could mean that European Union (EU) regulators make it more difficult and expensive to sell diesels which are 20 to 30 percent more fuel efficient than gasoline engines. In Europe, diesels account for roughly half of all new car sales, compared with about three percent in the U.S. before “dieselgate” struck.

All the major manufacturers are spending huge amounts of capital trying to produce more fuel efficient engines, driven by these looming new regulations in Europe and the U.S.

Less aggressive

Europe demands average vehicle emissions of 130 grams per kilometer of carbon dioxide (CO2) – that’s the equivalent of 43 miles per U.S. gallon – by this year, largely achieved. This will tighten to 95 g/km by 2020 and 2021 or 57.4 miles per U.S. gallon. The U.S. requires a slightly less aggressive 54.5 mpg by 2025.

Germany’s Daimler, which owns Mercedes, Peugeot-Citroen of France, Swedish-based and China owned Volvo and the Renault-Nissan alliance are said to be on target.

Hyundai, according to the report, is poorly positioned, the only company with a worsening position between 2013 and 2015.

“As as result they were the only one to move from being close to meet the 2021 target to being forecast to miss it by some margin,” the report said. Their gasoline and diesel engines are not as efficient as competitors and they have no hybrids or plug-in hybrids, although these will start to be produced in 2016.

“The other carmaker facing real challenges is BMW. It has seen a reduction in its CO2 emissions since 2013, but is still forecast to miss its 2021 target,” the report said. Its vehicles are getting heavier. Hybrids accounted for only 0.1 percent of sales in 2014, PHEVs 0.2 percent and electric vehicles 1.3 percent.

Volkswagen, as if it didn’t have enough problems, also remains on a trajectory that will miss the 2021 fuel economy target.

“The stakes are high for the losers. Manufacturers risk penalties of 95 euros ($100) for every gram of CO2 above the limit, multiplied by the number of cars they sell in 2020. These could range from around 100 million euros ($106 million) for BMW and up to one billion euros ($1.1 billion) for Volkswagen,” the report said.

BMW spending frantically

To be fair, investment bank Barclays Equity Research said BMW may look behind in the race now, but it is spending frantically and cars on the drawing board will do the job eventually.

“We think that BMW is the leading (manufacturer) in terms of spending on CO2 emissions standards but that the phasing of their product cycle has masked that advantage until now,” Barclays said in a report.

And Volkswagen and its Audi and Porsche subsidiaries already have plenty of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road or in the planning stage.

The European Union is planning to adopt new rules for 2017 which will force car makers to review their current fuel consumption system which is heavily tied to the laboratory and computers and make it conform to real world driving conditions. PA Consulting said this could raise current outcomes by up to 10 percent.

If this is coupled with new regulations to clean-up diesels, all bets will be off as the 2021 targets will be impossible to reach. This could lead to massive fines all around and a political confrontation between the industry and the E.U. By then the industry will also be threatened by the looming and surely impossible-to-meet U.S. fuel efficiency demands, conveniently set by politicians and regulators who will be long retired by 2025.

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Peugeot’s 308 GTi hot hatch is set to arrive in Australia is two variants, with pre-orders kicking off from December.

A cloud of speculation surrounded the 308 GTi’s price point in the lead-up to its launch, but the range will start from $44,990.

That price is for the 184kW 308 GTi 250, while the more powerful 200kW 308 GTi 270 starts from $49,990.

Lexus’ pioneering RX SUV has now entered its fourth generation, growing in size and price, but picking up a raft of high-tech features along the way.

The new RX gains a repowered entry model, the RX 200t which shares its 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engine with the NX small SUV, and takes the place of the previous naturally-aspirated RX 270.

The range also features a V6-powered RX 350, and V6-hybrid RX 450h. Grades include Luxury across the range, and F-sport and Sports Luxury variants available on RX 350 and RX 450h.

Sydney was the first Australian city to see the new Rolls-Royce Dawn during a launch last week, and this week it was Melbourne’s turn to sample the new luxury drophead.

For Melbourne customers, the local arrival is accompanied by news that Zagame Automotive Group will be the new point of contact through its facility in Richmond.

And those thinking about becoming Rolls-Royce Dawn customers? You’ll need at least $749,000 plus on-road costs to get into one, and that’s before any of the option boxes have been ticked.

In other news, now that both the Fiat 124 and Mazda MX-5 roadsters are out in the open, we asked the question: “what’s the difference?”.

Volkswagen’s dieselgate emissions scandal rolled on, with news that the 3.0 litre V6 engine is again in the spotlight, and the carmaker outlining its fix for the 1.6 and 2.0 litre EA189 engines.

Tesla cut the ribbon at its latest Supercharging site in Gundagai, NSW, declaring the Sydney to Melbourne corridor complete in the process. The EV-maker also recalled its Model S this week due to a potential seatbelt problem.

Citroen’s Berlingo work van has been updated for 2016, bringing extra safety and infotainment technology for just the barest of price-rises over the outgoing model.

Love the convenience of online shopping, but hate the hassle of having goods delivered to your door? Volvo created a solution this week with its European customers with a new delivery-to-car service.

Bugatti’s teased its Veyron successor this week, believed to be called the Chiron, in a sketch displayed to potential buyers at various, targeted overseas events.

Honda announced its CR-V SUV Series II is now available in a Limited Edition model, bringing a range of extras for a $1700 premium over the standard VTi model.

Also doing the Limited Edition thing this week was Alfa Romeo, who announced it was reviving the Sprint name for a special version of its Giulietta model.

TMR’s spy photographers managed to catch the first look at the updated Colorado 7 this week, as the SUV underwent testing in Melbourne.

The imminent arrival of Ford’s Mustang pony-car in Australia prompted Victoria’s VicRoads Custom Plates to release a new Mustang range.


We drove the 2016 MINI Clubman Cooper and Cooper S this week, declaring the compact wagons to be every bit the driver’s cars.

Ford’s 2016 Mondeo Titanium 2.0DT Wagon proved to be big, fast and smooth as silk, priced from $49,340 plus on-roads.

Nissan’s full range of NP300 Navara pickups is now available in Australia, and we drove the 2016 Single Cab, King Cab and Dual Cab models this week.

Renault’s 2015 Trafic long-wheelbase van proved to us that vans can work smarter rather than harder, offering a comfy cabin that doubles as a mobile office.

We found the 2016 Hyundai i40 Active Tourer 2.0 Litre Petrol Automatic Series II was no firecracker, but instead offered a lesson in style.

The clock is ticking if you’re after an Australian-made 21st-century muscle car for a bargain price, and we found the 2015 HSV Clubsport R8 LSA makes a compelling reason to take the plunge (before it’s too late).

In case you missed it earlier, the 2016 Lexus RX range is now on sale in Australia and we drove the RX 200t and RX 350 this week.

Kia’s 2016 Rio SLi might be showing its age, but the light car still offers a handsome, roomy and reliable package in its twilight years with an outstanding warranty.

We found the 2015 Nissan Pulsar SSS sedan good, but not quite ‘there’ as a performance model - although its $26,990 plus on-roads price-tag is hard to beat.

Audi’s 2015 A7 3.0 TDI Biturbo Quattro Tiptronic proved it can walk the walk, and with its 650Nm, also talk the torque.

We re-established why the 2016 BMW 520d secures a staggering 42 percent of all 5 Series sales, with its combination of handsome exterior styling, a lush and massive cabin plus winning driveability.

Ford’s 2016 Ranger XLT 4x4 Dual Cab Auto is a Ford family car disguised as a 4X4 ute, with its higher-than-some price-tag bringing a comprehensive suite of safety features.

Finally, the question ‘who needs diesel?’ raised its head as we drove a camouflaged prototype of Mazda’s all-new CX-9 SUV in the US ahead of its Australian launch next year. Check out our review.

And that’s… the week that was.

BMW’s Motorrad division strikes again with an R nineT model, only this time it’s a Scrambler.
We’ve encountered the R nineT plenty of times now, since BMW never misses a beat to show-off the customizable bike whenever it gets the chance. Since the basic factory-vehicle is garnished with design elements configured to allow it to be easily modified, the German company decided to revive the Scrambler era, and appeal to the purist in all of us in a very special way.

Reducing the bike to its bare essentials, but retaining the well-known BMW technology and quality, the company’s latest offers a non-conformist approach to riding straight from the factory. Equipped with a potent air-cooled boxer engine, the R nineT Scrambler features a punchy mill that boasts 109 hp at 7750 rpm and a maximum torque of 116 Nm at 6,000 rpm thanks to a new engine mapping system, which also meets the EU4 emission requirements.

BMW says that the normal R nineT was created to comply with “the desire of many motorcycle fans to be able to modify their bike creatively according to their own personal taste”. Nonetheless, there’s no denying that with a raised exhaust system, fitted close to the bike’s body, a traditional suspension technology, and a lightened frame concept, this Scrambler can lend itself to various customizers as a good starting base.

The bike’s structure is a key aspect in terms of the Scrambler's extensive customization capacity, especially as it’s a steel tubular space-frame that integrates the boxer engine as a load-bearing element and consists of a front section with integrated steering head and a rear section with swinging arm mount.

Since this Scrambler is all about looks, the passenger frame can be dismounted, making it perfect for a stylish appearance on the road, especially as it comes with an authentic-style (as BMW puts it) that will draw the purist’s attention. In fact, the classic-color paint schemes, upright seating position, large 19-inch front wheel, circular headlamp and many other details transforms it into a noteworthy proposition in the re-emerging Scrambler scene.