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US electric car industry poised to overtake Europe [fr]

A new US fuel efficiency standard finalised by the Obama administration last month will jolt America’s nascent electric car industry to life, but could leave European auto manufacturers racing to catch up, analysts and industry sources say.

From 2025, American cars and light trucks will have to achieve a standard of at least 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) under the new regulation, higher than can be achieved by any existing fuel-powered cars, according to the US Department of Energy.

The only cars on the US market which exceed the 54.5 mpg target (measured as mpg equivalent) are at least partly powered by plug-in electricity, the US Environmental Protection Agency says.

This could spell trouble for Europe’s electric car industry as a ‘thought experiment’ by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has found that the US target surpasses its EU equivalent by some distance.

A 54.5mpg standard would be roughly equal to a 70 grams of CO2 per km (g/km) measurement, the ICCT believes, with air conditioning credits exemptions potentially taking the figure up to a maximum of 83 g/km.

The EU has only set a fuel savings target of 95 g/km for 2020, with the promise of a communication about consultations on a future 2025 targets later this year.

Matthias Abend, a clean energy executive for the German carmaker BMW, told EurActiv it was “absolutely true” that European auto exports would not be able to compete with the US, if the fuel economy gap remained so wide.
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