The spread of the coronavirus could undermine almost every car maker's plans to hit the European Union's 2020 emissions targets, Kia Europe's chief operating officer has warned.
While all car makers have individual targets based on their product mix to hit, they must all achieve average fleet CO2 emissions of around 95g/km for cars sold this year, necessitating that most sell significant numbers of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric cars unless they can find other ways to offset their figures, such as buying super-credits from rival car makers.
However, Emilio Herrera highlighted that any production delays resulting from shutdowns as a result of the spread of coronavirus could undermine the plans laid down in advance.
"Our planning to hit the targets has been many years in the making, but coronavirus is a curveball that of course nobody has factored in," he said. "Today we don't know the impact, but it could be that the whole industry is left in a position where it cannot fulfil the sales necessary and we have to go to the EU and plead for force majeure."
The virus outbreak has already led to factory closures across Asia, including in Kia's home of South Korea, while European car makers have also warned of delays as a result of shutdowns among their networks of suppliers.
"We are not at the point yet where our plans will be disrupted to a point where we can't fulfil our promise to hit the EU target," said Herrera, "but there is a potential worst-case scenario that we have to be prepared for. I just hope we don't have to go there."