This is T&E's report on why Europe’s obsession with diesel cars is bad for its economy, its drivers and the environment.
The average car sits unused for more than 90% of the time, carries on average just one and a half people and costs, on average, €6,500 a year to own and run. Each car occupies 150m2 of urban land and still this is not the full bill – congestion costs the EU economy €100 billion annually. The convenience that made the car a 20th century icon has been eroded by its popularity.
In November 2016 the Commission presented its new proposal for a Renewable Energy Directive in the 2021-2030 period. The main elements of the proposal on transport are to reduce the cap on food and feed-based biofuels to 3.8% in 2030 and to establish a mandate on fuel suppliers, requiring them to blend 6.8% of advanced fuels by 2030 (T&E’s position on biofuels in the RED can be found here).
This report, released on the first anniversary of the Dieselgate scandal, exposes the shocking number of dirty diesel cars on the EU’s roads and the feeble regulation of cars by national authorities that have focused on protecting their own commercial interests or those of domestic carmakers. In the US, following the disclosure that VW had cheated emissions tests, justice has been swiftly and effectively delivered. This is in stark contrast to Europe where VW claims it has not acted illegally, no penalties have been levied and no compensation has been provided to customers.
Road transport is one of the few EU sectors where CO2 emissions continue to grow. To address the problem, the Commission plans to publish its proposals on car and van CO2 standards in November, followed by fuel efficiency standards for trucks in early 2018. Using its new EUTRM model, Transport & Environment has analysed the emission reductions of different ambition levels and their contribution to help achieve the 2030 non-ETS targets required from road transport. The key results are:
- Even the most ambitious standards analysed only deliver half the reductions required from road transport in 2030, leaving member states with a large CO2 gap to close with additional policies.
- Without intermediary targets in 2025 much CO2 reduction is delayed, halving the cumulative emissions cuts by 2030 and jeopardising achieving the ESR goals cost-effectively.
Ambitious CO2 standards of 45% reduction for cars and 40% for vans in 2030, with mandatory targets in 2025, are cost-effective and essential for member states to comply with the Effort Sharing Regulation and for Europe to achieve its 2030 climate goals.
It has been more than a year since the European Commission presented its type approval proposals (or TAFR) to reform the current system of vehicles testing following the Dieselgate scandal. Following extensive consideration by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers, the final negotiations to agree the changes are imminent. The Parliament voted its position on 4 April; the Council is expected to agree most technical details at a working group meeting on the 26 and 27 April and reach a final agreement at the Competitiveness Council on 29 May.
T&E has got hold of Italy’s Dieselgate emissions investigation. The report proves that the home carmaker got special treatment, e.g. Fiat’s cars were tested in carmakers’ own labs and some even “exempted” from undergoing more demanding tests. This shows what is going to happen if type approval rules are not tightened up and all enforcement continues to sit with national authorities.
The number of people dying on Europe’s roads nearly halved between 2000 and 2010. However, this spectacular progress has now grinded to a halt. In 2013, 4,000 people died on our roads. Since then until today fatality numbers have remained stable. For already several years the European Commission has promised to come up with a revision of the General Safety Regulation (GSR) which is completely outdated but so far nothing is on the table. Standards set in the GSR would apply to all new vehicles produced and sold in the EU. The GSR is therefore a key instrument to drive vehicle safety developments and accelerate market uptake of and investment in new lifesaving designs and technologies.
Electro-mobility offers an unequalled solution to make Europe’s transport more efficient and less polluting. But the market for electric vehicles (EVs - both battery and plug-in hybrids) has had several false dawns. Finally in 2015, sales of electric cars reached the important milestone of a 1% market share. Overall electric car sales doubled in 2015 to 145,000. The most recent data in 2016 suggests further growth in 2016. Sales year to date suggest significantly more than 200,000 plug-in vehicles will be sold in Europe this year taking the total number of EVs on the road to more than 500,000.