The role of shared mobility in shaping European transport is likely to be influenced by a Spanish case referred to the European Court of Justice. A judge in Barcelona has asked the court to rule on whether Uber, the smartphone application for hailing taxis, often unlicensed, should be regulated as a digital or transport service. Meanwhile, the European Commission has launched its own investigation into how to deal with Uber, which will run in parallel with the court case.
The gripping Solar Impulse flight, and the news that Airbus has patented a plane that can fly from Paris to Tokyo in under 3 hours, shows that 100 years after the Wright Brothers, the aviation industry remains one of the few industries that can ignite our imagination with new ideas. It's essential though that this deep commitment to innovation is fully targeted at cleaning up of air travel.
NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) has criticised the decision by the Irish Government, with Brussels’ backing, to grant €42.5 million to a number of small regional airports, a decision which will see public money propping up underutilised airports with questionable socioeconomic benefits. These public resources could have been better invested in developing a sustainable transport network in Ireland, T&E argues.
It is impossible to have missed the news on cheap oil and gas, and what it is doing to our economies. A Google search for ‘oil price drop’ shows you what Reuters, BBC, Bloomberg, Forbes, etc – the big boys – have to say on the subject. And shale plays a key role in both. And indeed, oil costs less than it did in 2008 and 2012. And indeed, this is having a big economic impact. It means that Europe in 2014 saved around 1% of GDP, more than €100 billion, in import bills. A free and welcome boost. But this column is not seeking to add to what Reuters has to say. It wants to offer two other perspectives.
When people think about American trucks, the image that springs to mind is a massive Coca-Cola truck with a big nose. These massive rigs don’t seem particularly efficient and for a long time Europeans made fun of the big-nosed US mammoths. Some European manufacturers even boasted about how they sold out-dated technology in the US. This is about to change.
The European Commission is coming under increasing pressure to propose new car fuel economy targets for 2025 after news that carmakers which account for three-quarters of sales in Europe are on track to meet their goals for 2021.
Electric vehicle (EV) sales grew to 67,000 vehicles in 2014, up from just 700 in 2010, which T&E’s analysis found was partly the result of more major car companies offering EV models in the market. However, they still only represent 0.5% of the total annual sales, in part as a result of limited supply of models (just 20 are available). Some manufacturers – most notably Ford and Fiat – are not supplying any models.
While new cars sold in 2014 averaged CO2 emissions of 123g/km, according to the How Cleans are Europe's cars 2015? report, real-world emissions are much higher and reductions in CO2 are happening considerably slower than depicted. Now T&E is warning that the cheating will continue to undermine progress even after a new test, the Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedures (WLTP), is introduced.