- Aug 5, 2008
Endangered Species: Europe's sportscar makers worried about the future
With the European Union tightening restrictions on carbon emissions, danger has been spelled out in big bright letters for the sportscar-makers we know and love. The bulk of the world's best supercar manufacturers – including Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus, Aston Martin and Porsche – reside in Europe, but while industry executives continue to campaign for exception and protection, things don't look good. There are, however, a few solutions that could keep the exotic automakers in business and unmolested.
Firstly, both automakers and lawmakers agree on the need to reduce weight, which helps neither emissions nor performance. However, weight reduction itself won't bring the supercars below the 120g/km target touted by the EU. One possible solution would be to give niche automakers an exemption, noting that the few cars they produce are rarely driven anyway. According to Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann, exotic automakers like his "are representing Europe to the world" and "are a species to protect", much like an art form. That's something we car lovers can appreciate, and if it strikes a cord with the lawmakers it could help some of the smaller independent automakers like Aston Martin and Lotus, but it won't help the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini, which are part of bigger auto groups Fiat and Volkswagen, respectively. Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has argued that it would be unreasonable to force low-polluting little Fiats like the Panda and the 500 to bear the burden of their more polluting cousins from Ferrari and Maserati simply because they happen to be under common management.
At the end of the day, these exotic sportscars are not the big problem, though they do make easy targets. If European Union bureaucrats ignore the former and focus on the latter, Europe's most famous automakers could be legislated right out of business.
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