A senior Volkswagen executive says city cars such as the Up are facing extinction thanks to Europe’s increasingly strict emissions regulations.

Speaking to Autocar, Jürgen Stackmann, the Wolfsburg-based firm’s head of sales and marketing, said it was becoming difficult to make a business case for city cars.

As the British publication points out, automakers in Europe must by 2020 drop to a CO2 emissions fleet average of 95 g/km or less.

The majority of conventionally powered city cars, including the Up, would find themselves well over this limit (particularly with the new WLTP testing method now in effect), which would force manufacturers to compensate with other vehicles (such as electric cars). And, of course, both small city cars and first-generation electric cars have small profit margins.

“If Europe is pursuing this legal target, there is no single business case for cars the size of the Up,” Stackmann told Autocar.

“They are too small for the new technology, and the engine can’t meet the CO2 targets. You’d need to sell an EV just to be able to sell a city car.

“So the life of small cars with conventional engines is very hard. It’s a problem. I don’t think the politicians have picked this problem up yet. What do you buy in the future when you cannot afford a new car?”