Renault may join German effort to loosen European emissions limits

We're not sure how to translate "biting the hand that feeds you" to French, but we're pretty sure the phrase is appropriate here. See, Renault recently won funding of about $28 million from the European Commission to develop diesel-hybrid powertrains for commercial vans. The thing is, the French company may now join lobbying efforts with German automakers as they ask EC officials to loosen emissions restrictions set for the end of the decade, according to Reuters.

German automakers such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler AG have likely gotten Renault, along with fellow French automaker PSA Peugeot Citroen, to sign onto an effort to make 2020 emissions requirements about 10 percent less strict than what's currently mandated. The current regulations say European automakers need to bring fleetwide emissions down about 30 percent to 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer by 2020. The Germans want to bring that number back up to 104 grams per kilometer.

Having previously supported the new mandate, French automakers, whose cars generally get better fuel economy than luxury German vehicles, may be joining up with the Germans because of existing powertrain agreements. Renault and sister company Nissan have been working on projects with Daimler since 2010, while Peugeot and BMW launched a powertrain electrification joint venture a year later. Earlier this year, BMW went on record as saying the 2020 emissions standards would be "impossible" for the automaker to meet.

Still, Renault will get 20.5 million euros (about $28 million) from the EC, including a 3.8-million-euro grant (the rest of the funds are loans), to develop a diesel-hybrid powertrain that can be used in commercial vans like Renault's Trafic and Master.

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