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Family businesses take the lead in cutting carbon emissions

Three family-run car manufacturers are making the headlines for their work to create more efficient, less polluting cars. Fiat, Hyundai and Ford have all announced plans to cut the carbon emissions of the cars they produce. All are family businesses and all are faring better through the recession than many of their rivals.

Fiat, controlled by the sixth generation of the founding Agnelli family, claim to have the new technology to cut fuel consumption by 10%. Rinaldo Rinolfi, Fiat's most successful engineer, has created the new type of engine that Chrysler said was worth $10 billion when they formed their alliance earlier this month.

"We needed to do something radical with the gasoline engine," Rinolfi said in an interview at Fiat's research centre in northern Italy. This new technology will enable Chrysler cars to meet the stricter consumption and emission levels required by the president of the United States, Barack Obama.

Meanwhile, Hyundai plans to be the first car manufacturer to meet the stricter new US fuel-economy rules. South Korea's largest carmaker is controlled by the Chung family and is currently headed by Chung Mong-Koo, son of the company's founder.

It wants to raise its profile in the US by being at the forefront of emissions cutting. John Krafcik, president of the company's US unit, said: "We are going to hit it ahead of everyone, that is the current plan."

In the US, Ford, the only American car manufacturer not receiving government loans, will receive a $5.9 billion government grant to put towards building cars that are more fuel efficient. The grant is part of the 2007 energy bill that is attempting to boost average fuel economy by 2016.

The news will please executive chairman and family member Bill Ford, who has championed the company's push into more environmentally friendly models.

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