Greg Archer & Julia Poliscanova of Transport & Environment (T&E), first published in EurActiv.There is a long history of bruising Brussels battles between left & right, or NGO’s & industry, over car emissions rules with millions of tonnes of emissions savings and billions of euros in investment at stake. The co-decision for the Commission's proposal for post 2020 car and van CO2 targets is shaping up to be another epic fight and a flick through MEPs amendments show strong divisions both between and within political groups. Member states are equally divided with Germany sitting on the fence and new, less corporate friendly, Governments in Spain and Italy expected to change the complexion of the Council debate.
Read Spanish and Italian versions.China has secured €21.7 billion of investment in the past year to manufacture electric vehicles (EV) while Europe secured only €3.2 billion, according to European carmakers’ public announcements compiled by Transport & Environment (T&E). China produces a third more cars than Europe does (23.5 million passenger cars manufactured in 2017 versus 17 million in Europe) and thus the market size can’t explain the huge disparity in investment. China’s ambitious mandate – requiring carmakers to manufacture electric vehicles in its territory – is a key driver of investment in EVs, one which Europe currently lacks.
Mobility is at a crossroads and in each of the key three revolutions, automation, sharing and electrification of cars, Europe is falling behind. China has secured seven times more investments in electric vehicle manufacturing than the EU has in the last year only. Based on public announcements, China has received over EUR 21.7 billion of investment to produce electric vehicles while the EU secured only EUR 3.2 billion, seven times less. Front runners the Volkswagen Group, Daimler AG and Nissan have provided the bulk of the investment in China, driven by the aggressive electric vehicle policy. This policy requires carmakers to obtain credits for the production of EVs that are equivalent to 10% of the overall passenger car market in 2019 and 12% in 2020.
The supply of electric vehicles to the British market could dry up when the UK leaves the EU, according to a new study by T&E. This is because sales of electric cars in a post-Brexit British market will not count towards a carmaker’s EU CO2 targets. The study also suggests up to 6,700 British automotive workers could lose their jobs in the event of a ‘hard Brexit’.
An action plan to drive the production, reuse and recycling of lithium-ion batteries in the EU has been published by the European Commission. T&E has welcomed the strategy, but says parallel measures to ensure carmakers sell a minimum number of electric vehicles are needed if Europe is to make the most out of the economic potential of electric cars.
“As expected” mumbled Commission president Juncker when an aide passed him a note saying Trump had decided to impose tariffs on European steel and aluminium. The American administration had been playing with the Europeans for nearly two months but threats of retaliation, offers of new trade deals (TTIP light), and a grand visit from the French president had done nothing to dissuade US president Donald Trump.
Six EU countries are being taken to court for failing to tackle repeated breaches of air quality limits. T&E said the legal action by the European Commission is a long-overdue and welcome step. Germany, France and the UK face penalties for years of allowing breaches of limits on toxic NO2 emissions while Italy, Romania and Hungary failed to tackle harmful and illegal levels of particulates (PM10). Spain, however, has got away with a warning.
Carmakers are still failing to achieve their own sales targets for battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in Europe because they have barely improved the marketing, choice and availability of zero emissions vehicles, a new report shows. While carmakers seek to blame a lack of recharging points and government incentives, market data obtained by T&E shows that for the second year running  they spent miniscule amounts trying to sell electric vehicles – especially in markets where motorists are already willing to consider buying them.
Carmakers are failing to achieve their own targets for sales of battery electric and plug-in hybrid models as they do not increase the offer of these vehicles fast enough. While manufacturers complain about a lack of recharging infrastructure and incentives, this report by T&E makes it clear that they could have done significantly more to meet their own goals.
Future CO2 standards for cars and vans will set important milestones for the future of the EU's car industry, define the speed of transition to e-mobility and determine the climate efforts Member States will make in reducing transport emissions.