German auto lobby group views European Union emissions targets as too challenging

"We will lose technological leadership in clean vehicles if the United States, Japan and China keep accelerating away from us", he warned.

The commissioner said that the target would also help to restore trust in European auto makers after they were engulfed in the emissions-testing scandal. "The vehicle was invented in Europe and I believe it should be reinvented here".

The European Commission has proposed to 30-per cent reduction of vehicle carbon emissions by 2030, compared to 2021 levels. It also sets an interim goal of a 15 percent reduction by 2025 to help ensure automakers kick start investment early.

Under the draft proposal, if auto makers are found in breach of rules, they face penalties of €95 for every gram of Carbon dioxide above the limit and for each new vehicle registered in a given year.

Unlike California's system - viewed by many in the sector as the leading laboratory for policy on electric cars - European Union regulators shied away from quotas.

It has already met opposition from nations with big automotive sectors, such as Germany, and will face a tough battle before being approved by the EU's 28 member states and European Parliament to become law.

"We need to act to keep Europe's vehicle industry competitive and innovative", Canete added as he introduced a proposal aimed at promoting hybrid and electric auto production.

In a nod to manufacturers' concerns, the commission is set to earmark €800m to support the roll-out of charging points for electric vehicles and €200m for battery development.

"There is a huge gap between the European Union, which invented the auto, and developing countries", said EU climate and energy commissioner Miguel Arias Canete.

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