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Fiat Chrysler bought Tesla emissions credits in ’13

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles purchased 1.05 million greenhouse gas emission credits for the 2013 model year from electric carmaker Tesla Motors Inc. to help meet emissions requirements.

The Environmental Protection Agency report found that nine of the 13 major manufacturers with sales greater than 100,000 vehicles exceeded the requirements, with margins of compliance ranging from 27 grams/mile (Hyundai) to 4 grams/mile for General Motors Co. Four automakers did not meet the requirements but had enough credits from prior years to meet the standards — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, Daimler AG, BMW AG and Volkswagen AG.

“These findings are a terrific early success story for President Obama’s historic effort to reduce the pollution that contributes to climate change,” said EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. “Automakers are racing to meet our goals. The American auto industry has never been stronger, we’re creating jobs here in the U.S., selling cleaner cars here and overseas, and consumers are really benefiting from the innovations spurred by these standards.”

At the end of the 2013 model year, five small automakers had negative credit balances: Ferrari, Lotus, McLaren, Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover. Toyota Motor Corp. had the largest credit balance with 103 million outstanding credits, followed by Honda Motor Co. with 50.2 million and General Motors Co. with 29.2 million. Fiat Chrysler had 7.3 million credits. Fiat Chrysler’s fleet was 1.6 million short for the 2013 model year — even after the acquisition of credits from Tesla, it was still about 600,000 credits short for 2013 vehicles. The company has remained in last place among major automakers in overall fleetwide fuel efficiency for several years.

Fiat Chrysler didn’t need to acquire the Tesla credits to remain compliant, but the automaker may want to use them in future years. Fiat Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne declined to say how much the company paid or discuss its strategy.

Tesla said it earned $194 million from the sale of all regulatory credits in 2013 and $40.5 million in 2012; it is not clear how much came from the sale of some credits to Fiat Chrysler.

In a written statement, Fiat Chrysler defended its performance, asserting it “leads the industry in the proliferation of affordable technologies that improve the efficiency of vehicles equipped with these engines.”

Fiat Chrysler previously purchased 500,000 credits from Nissan Motor Co. in the 2011 model year and 144,000 credits in 2010. .

Since 2009, automakers have been able to earn credits toward meeting rising fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions requirements, which must hit 54.5 mpg by 2025, or nearly twice current requirements, by outperforming the required efficiency, building air conditioning systems that reduce emissions or with flexible fuel vehicles that can also run on mostly ethanol.

Credits are awarded per vehicle and calculated in “megagrams” — equal to 1 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

The EPA said the auto industry’s compliance with requirements in the 2013 model year was 1.4 miles per gallon better than required by law.

In an October report, EPA said that overall, vehicles that will be sold for model-year 2014 are estimated to be just 0.1 mile per gallon better — at 24.2 mpg in real-world fuel efficiency — than the overall average of all the 2013 model-year vehicles sold.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said the report shows that “while consumer sales are headed in the right direction, in the future we will need to sell these fuel-efficient technologies in even greater numbers to meet the government’s targets.”