Swedish carmakers attack EU over car recycling
STOCKHOLM - Swedish carmakers yesterday attacked an EU proposal on recycling which they said would hit them hardest - because Volvos and Saabs are built to last.
The EU draft directive is expected shortly to require manufacturers to recycle more components and take ultimate responsibility for scrapping all cars they produce now and in the past, according to Swedish industry officials.
"This is unacceptable in the highest degree," Kurt Palmgren, chief executive of the Swedish car industry association, told a news conference at the Stockholm Motor Show.
"For the two Swedish carmakers Saab and Volvo it would cost between five and six billion crowns, a burden which they had no idea of when they sold the cars," Palmgren said. Swedes expect their cars to last.
The car industry estimates that 55 percent of the cars on Swedish roads are at least 10 years old, as compared with only 39 percent in the United States, 36 percent in Britain and 27 percent in Germany.
"The longer the cars run, and we know that Saabs and Volvos run for quite a long time, the more we are responsible for," Saab spokesman Niklas Andersson told Reuters.
"The EU directive means we would have responsibility for close to one million cars on European roads which we sold without knowing we would be responsible for scrapping," Andersson said.
SAABS, VOLVOS CAN LAST 20 YEARS
He put the average cost of scrapping a car at 1,500 Swedish crowns ($174), and said Saabs and Volvos often ran for as long as 20 years.
Palmgren said the European Union directive had been discussed by EU environment ministers and the European Parliament and was now in a 10-week conciliation process to resolve differences.
Swedish carmakers had no problem with the EU requirement for manufacturers to steadily increase the percentage of components that could be recycled, from 75 percent today to 85 percent in 2002 and 95 percent in 2015.
Nor did they object to taking full economic responsibility for scrapping cars they produce from 2001 - a measure which Sweden introduced in 1998.
"That is perfectly okay," Saabs Andersson said. "Our competitors will have the same responsibility. The problem is that European makers - us, Volvo, Opel, have a lot of old cars that we need to take care of. Compare that with Korean manufacturers who do not have the same problem," he said.
"We find it really strange that European politicans would make regulations that are clearly negative for European manufacturers," Andersson said.
King Carl XVI Gustaf, a motor enthusiast, will on Friday open the Stockholm show, which its organisers said would be the first to display DaimlerChryslers new Mercedes C-Class limousine.
However, the sleek sedan was the centre of attention at a motor show in Belgrade yesterday and DaimlerChrysler said it had also been on public display in Leipzig, Germany.
Story by Tony Austin
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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