A new UK government report has cast doubt on the short-term benefits of driverless cars. The Department for Transport study predicts a “decline in network performance” once one in four cars become driverless. It said early models of the vehicles acted more cautiously and the result could be a “potential decrease in effective capacity” on motorways and A roads. The study did, however, note that should driverless vehicles make up between 50% and 75%, they will reduce congestion.
Efforts to expose Europe’s rail companies to more competition have moved a step forward, with the EU’s Fourth Rail Package being approved by MEPs. The measure was controversial in some respects, but T&E has given the news a cautious welcome.
A total decarbonisation of the transport sector is possible. So says the findings of a 10-year German government-led project to find practical ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Spearheaded by the Öko-Institut, the ‘Renewbility’ project looked at solutions for all of Europe and its work was supported by German and Swiss-based research institutions but also by T&E’s German member VCD.
The European Commission has outlined its plans for new car and truck safety rules. Under the Commission's plans new cars would be fitted with intelligent speed assistance and emergency braking systems. For trucks, the Commission plans to introduce the world's first-ever direct vision standard to tackle truck blind spots. The new rules will be proposed as legislation in the summer of 2017 and would apply to all vehicles sold in the European Union. T&E welcomes the Commission's plans but warns that direct vision trucks must hit the road well before 2028.
By Bill Hemmings, aviation and shipping directorWHAT WE LEARNED IN 2016: 2015 ended with big promises from the UN aviation and shipping bodies, ICAO and the IMO, that they’d finally act to rein in their sectors’ substantial and growing climate impact. It has been almost 20 years since they were first tasked with doing so by the Kyoto Protocol, and 2016 would be their last chance.
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.
By William Todts, freight and climate directorWHAT WE LEARNED IN 2016: “So what did you learn in 2016? And could you write a blog about it?" asked our communications officer.Silence. My God, where do I start, I thought. First Brexit, then Trump, and before all that there were people bombed on the metro in my hometown. What a year! But I can't write a doom and gloom Christmas blog.Then somehow I started thinking about this one thing that had really surprised me. A year ago I was campaigning to get the EU to introduce truck CO2 standards and, frankly, things weren’t looking great. Yes, there had been the Paris agreement, but still the odds were stacked against us. The Commission just didn't want to budge and the truck industry seemed all-powerful.
By Cécile Toubeau, better trade and regulation directorWHAT WE LEARNED IN 2016: It has been a bumpy year for European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. No one predicted the UK’s decision to leave the EU. Nor could the polls foretell the outcome of the US election, with Donald Trump winning on a largely anti-trade ticket. Both of these events came in response to the uneven sharing of the spoils of globalisation; a disproportionate share of the gains has ended up with the global elite, while median wages stagnate or decline.