By Greg Archer, clean vehicles directorWHAT WE LEARNED IN 2016: After many false dawns, 2016 is the year electric cars showed they are on a path to rapidly replacing the infernal combustion engine. There are now more than half a million battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles on Europe’s roads, and annual sales are expected to top 1.5% of the market for the first time. While the figures are modest, Dieselgate has created an EV earthquake, shaking carmakers from their complacency.
The cost of introducing ambitious CO2 reduction targets for cars by 2025 is much less than previously estimated, according to preliminary figures released by research group the ICCT. Cutting car CO2 to around 75g of CO2 per km is estimated to cost around €600 extra per vehicle beyond the agreed 95g/km 2021 target.
There is broad support among EU environment ministers for new CO2 standards for trucks and strengthened CO2 standards for cars. A large number of those attending an informal council of transport and environment ministers in Amsterdam last month said the measures would be required to ensure the necessary transition towards a low and zero emission transport sector in 2050 in order to combat climate change, air pollution and ‘green’ Europe’s economy.
The very first tests of cars’ ‘real-world’ CO2 emissions have revealed gaps between official and actual emissions of 36-56% – very similar to those of other on-road fuel efficiency databases. Three models were tested by PSA Peugeot Citroën, under a protocol devised with T&E, on public roads near Paris with passengers, luggage loads, use of air conditioning and other real-life driving conditions.
Air pollution is costing more than $160 billion (€143 billion) a year in lost productivity, according to new data released by the World Bank. The data also show that air pollution has its greatest impact in poorer countries.
The US state of Oregon is to start an experiment in replacing fuel taxes with a distance-based charge. The experiment could be the start of a US-wide switch to ‘pay-per-mile’ charging, but buyers of fuel-efficient cars say the new scheme discriminates against the investments they have made in cleaner technology, and civil liberties groups say they have concerns about the satellite data that would be collected.
European carmakers are pushing to delay by three years new rules that would strengthen the ways car fuel-efficiency and CO2 are measured.
The city council in Gothenburg has decided to keep the city’s congestion charge despite the result of a referendum held last September that called for its abolition. The decision to maintain the charge was taken in order to protect funding for a new rail tunnel under the city centre.
The city of Paris imposed a partial ban on cars and lorries for one day last month as air pollution reached dangerous levels across western Europe.
The Commission has said a number of EU member states could be making more and better use of environmental taxation.