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New cars in Switzerland are rapidly becoming greener

Good news for the CO2-Emissions in road traffic: Last year, car importers had to pay fewer fines for excessive pollutant emissions. The reasons.

Newly registered cars in Switzerland are becoming more and more environmentally friendly. This is proven by the current figures on CO2-Penalties that the Federal Office of Energy (BfE) levies annually. These are the fines that car importers pay if their cars exceed the statutory maximum carbon dioxide limit. For passenger cars, this is 188 grams of CO2 per kilometer driven – measured according to the internationally standardized measurement procedure for new vehicles (World Light Vehicles Test Procedure).

In 2020, the BfE imposed fines of CHF 132.1 million. For 2021, the revenues from the CO decreased2-Penalties of 28.1 million Swiss francs. This corresponds to a decrease of almost 80 percent.

Importers celebrate the decline as a success

The importers’ association Auto-Schweiz concludes that the importers are “celebrating great success with their efforts to reduce emissions from new vehicles”. In fact, the market share of battery vehicles reached 13.3 percent last year.

For the new President of Auto Switzerland, Albert Rösti, this is already a first success in his term of office. “This shows impressively that automobile importers and with them the entire industry are on the right track when it comes to reducing CO2-Emissions are,” he is quoted as saying in a statement. The wide range of electrified vehicles and their high level of attractiveness for customers made a significant contribution to the success.

In practice, plug-in hybrids fare worse

But behind the sudden success are not only battery-electric vehicles, but also those with full hybrid and plug-in hybrid drives. They know that consumption in practice can be significantly higher than stated when purchasing.

An example: A BMW X5 xDrive45e Steptronic is an SUV with a curb weight of a good 2.7 tons and a plug-in hybrid drive. There is a CO in its type test2-Emissions of 27 grams per kilometer. In everyday use, however, the said SUV can consume significantly more, especially on longer motorway journeys without frequent charging of the battery. In the CO2-Balance sheet, however, only the paper value according to the approval is taken into account.

Nevertheless, the decline in fines is pleasing. While the market share of plug-in hybrid vehicles increased by almost 50 percent in 2021 compared to the previous year, the share of battery vehicles in new Swiss registrations increased by a good 62 percent in the same period. The range of electric cars is growing every day, prices are falling as steadily as ranges are increasing. The plug-in hybrid should soon have had its day as a transitional technology.

But one problem remains: at least every second car sold in Switzerland is one that uses fossil fuels. Added to this are the more than four million vehicles that are already on Swiss roads. A good 90 percent of them run on petrol or diesel.

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