EU Outlines Clean Mobility Plan

European auto association says a proposed 30% CO2 reduction level by 2030 is also overly challenging.
November 09, 2017

BERLIN — The European Commission outlined its clean mobility plan this week, confirming its plans to reduce carbon emissions from vehicles by 2030 and advance the use of electric vehicles.

The Commission proposes new targets for the EU fleet wide average CO2 emissions of new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles (vans) that will apply from 2025 and 2030. Average CO2 emissions from new passenger cars registered in the EU in 2025 will have to be 15% and in 2030 30% lower compared to 2021. Average CO2 emissions from new light commercial vehicles registered in the EU in 2025 will have to be 15% and in 2030 30% lower compared to 2021.

In terms of whether the proposal means the end of the gasoline and diesel car, the Commissions says that it “sees a need for accelerating the uptake of zero- and low-emission vehicles in an effort to improve air quality and lower CO2 emissions, while following an approach of technology neutrality.”

Currently, almost all cars in the EU are powered by an internal combustion engine, so even with a rapid increase in zero- and low-emission vehicles the Commission says conventionally fueled vehicles will still make up an important part of the EU vehicle fleet in 2030.

“While the proposal will speed up the market uptake of zero- and low-emission vehicles, accelerating innovation and reaching economies of scale, the change in the fleet composition will be gradual. It is expected that at least 80% of the new car fleet in 2030 will contain an internal combustion engine,” notes the Commission.

Meanwhile, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) says regarding the CO2 proposal, the group welcomes the new target date of 2030. “This is consistent with the timings already agreed by the EU heads of states with the 2030 Climate and Energy Framework,” stated ACEA Secretary General Erik Jonnaert. However, setting an additional target already in 2025, just a few years after the 2021 targets, does not leave enough time to make the necessary technical and design changes to vehicles, in particular to light commercial vehicles given their longer development and production cycles, according to the group.

ACEA says the 30% CO2 reduction level proposed by the Commission is also overly challenging, going beyond the ambition level set out in the Climate and Energy Framework and in its own 2016 impact assessment. The European auto industry considers a 20% CO2 reduction by 2030 for cars to be achievable at a high, but acceptable, cost.

“Clearly, CO2 targets can provide an impetus for innovation in the auto industry, but the current proposal is very aggressive when we consider the low and fragmented market penetration of alternatively-powered vehicles across Europe to date,” Jonnaert stated, adding that success in meeting a 2030 target will be linked to the market uptake of alternatively-powered vehicles.

“Europe needs much more investment in recharging and refueling infrastructure, before we can expect consumers throughout the entire EU to embrace such vehicles,” said Jonnaert. Although ACEA welcomes the Commission’s action plan for boosting investment in a network of charging and refueling stations across the European Union, infrastructure is only one side of the coin. Affordability is a major barrier for many Europeans, underlining the need for harmonized and coherent consumer incentives.

“A radical change in the market for alternatively-powered vehicles will of course not happen overnight. This is why focusing on a 2030 target is the best way forward. Instead of setting an interim target in 2025, it should rather be seen as a milestone year to review the progress made in reducing CO2 emissions towards 2030,” Jonnaert said.

“This piece of legislation will have a significant impact on the future of Europe’s automotive industry,” Jonnaert said. “ACEA looks forward to working together with the European Commission, Parliament and Council over the months ahead to ensure that future CO2 targets can be both ambitious and feasible, also taking into account the social implications for the 12.6 million Europeans employed by our sector.”