The costs of emissions-free, electric vans are now as low as their diesel competitors. That’s according to a new study by consultancy CE Delft that focuses on the small van segment largely used in cities and which accounts for 40% of total van sales in the EU. The study takes into account purchase price, taxes, fuel bills and maintenance costs over six years, equivalent to a standard lease contract. The rapid fall in battery prices – they dropped by 24% in 2017 alone – is the main factor in making electric vans reach cost parity.
Light commercial vehicles, or vans, are a neglected area of EU road transport policy as they are often exempt from safety and environmental policy such as driving regulations or tolls, compared to their direct competitors, trucks. This enhances their attractiveness and in part explains why their use and emissions are growing. CO2 standards for van makers are much weaker than for cars, as a result van makers do not deploy the same efficient and innovative technologies to vans to lower their emissions.
Airlines lobby group, IATA, claims that aviation produces only 2% of global man-made CO2 emissions. While this is true, they are telling barely half the story. According to Professor Dr Volker Grewe, researcher at DLR and chair for climate effects of aviation at Technical University Delft, air transport’s contribution to climate change is roughly 5%. This is because in addition to emitting CO2, aircraft flying at altitude impact the atmosphere in various ways which have a large, albeit transient, additional warming effect.
The revelations that VW, Daimler and BMW commissioned research that forced monkeys and healthy human subjects to breathe toxic diesel fumes in a perverted attempt to prove their cars were clean is abhorrent. The methods bear shocking similarities to the tactics of the tobacco industry that funded research to disprove cigarettes were harmful with the explicit goal to undermine evidence from the World Health Organisation. It reveals a blurring of moral standards in German carmakers that starkly contrasts with the glossy brands the companies spend a fortune cultivating.
Emails released to Transport & Environment after an 18 month-long appeal process have confirmed that when crafting CO2 rules for aircraft, the European Commission – the regulator – gave Airbus – the regulated entity – privileged access to the EU decision-making process and allowed Airbus to determine the EU position. The result is a standard which does nothing for the climate or public health.
The European Parliament voted today to limit the support to biofuels made from food crops to 2017 national consumption levels and never higher than 7% of all transport fuels. Parliament also voted to remove biodiesel made from palm oil, the highest emitting biofuel in the market today, from the list of biofuels that can count towards the renewables target in 2021. This means that drivers will no longer be forced to burn palm oil in their cars and trucks.
This study shows that, in the period 2008 to 2011, a time before CO2 standards for trucks came into effect in the US, truck prices increased but fuel efficiency remained broadly static. Coming into force in 2011, standards ensured the deployment of fuel saving technologies and brought about a 24% fuel efficiency gain from 2011 to 2017.
EU countries today agreed to strengthen rules governing how cars are approved for sale in Europe, with the goal of preventing another dieselgate. Sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) welcomes the decision but warns that only proper scrutiny and real enforcement of the new rules will prevent carmakers from cheating again.
A group of 18 major European cities have written to Commission President Juncker urging him to prioritise road safety by mandating a direct vision standard for trucks as soon as possible. Cities such as London, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels and Copenhagen are re-designing existing roads and cutting vehicle speeds but say they cannot be successful "if we do not also improve in parallel the safety of the cars, vans and trucks".
The industry committee of the European Parliament voted today to reinstate a ‘renewable’ energy target for transport in 2030 . Such a target would continue subsidising the use of high-emitting, food-based biofuels, green group Transport & Environment (T&E) and development NGO Oxfam said. If passed in the plenary of the Parliament, it would increase emissions in transport, push up global food prices and negatively impact people around the world who live from the land.