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Euope/Japan: Europeans warm to e-cars

Why have Europeans become such enthusiastic adopters of electric cars lately?

With 18 million cars sold every year, Europeans are understandably concerned about the amount of greenhouse gas vehicles produce. European automotive manufacturers have had targets to reduce the amount for carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by passenger cars since 1998.

Vehicles are responsible for more than 17 per cent of overall greenhouse gas emissions in Europe. The average emission level of new vehicles registered in the European Union in 2010 was 140.3 grams of CO2 per kilometre (gCO2/km). Under current legislation, car manufacturers must drop that to 130 gCO2/km by 2015. Fines for failing to meet the target are calculated on a progressive scale for each additional gram of CO2 above the target. Manufacturers feel the sting when the fine is multiplied by the number of vehicles sold.

Ever-stricter emission standards have even shaken the continent’s love of diesel-powered vehicles. Diesel’s efficiency and lower fuel costs have made it the engine of choice for generations. But electric cars are even cleaner and cost less to operate.

While all internal-combustion engines produce some CO2, electric cars represent an easy answer for European manufacturers wishing to decrease the average tailpipe emissions from their fleet.

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