Coal or oil. That was the question facing ‘a young man in a hurry’ who had just been put in charge of the British navy. A century ago coal-powered steamships were the proven technology. On the other hand, there was a new technology: the internal combustion engine (ICE). Proponents of the ICE said it would be faster, healthier for the crew and operated by far fewer people which made it a lot cheaper to run. Of course it wasn’t a 100% proven technology. It was new. Would it always work? And would there be enough oil?
The mayor of London and representatives of other British cities have called for a ban on sales of petrol and diesel cars to be introduced in 2030 – 10 years earlier than the earlier announcement by the UK government. Their call comes as a court in Germany has ruled that banning diesels from a historic city is a legitimate way to combat air pollution, and Milan has taken the first step towards banning diesels from the city by 2025.
Some 97% of Spain’s population is being exposed to harmful levels of air pollution, a report by T&E’s Spanish member Ecologistas en Acción shows. The economic recovery has brought an increase in the use of diesel for cars, airplane jet fuel, and coal to generate electricity. The main source of pollution in urban areas, where most of the population lives, is road traffic.
Europe is falling behind in the race to make the most of the electromobility revolution. That is the conclusion from news that the EU is trailing China in investment in e-vehicles, coupled with a T&E report that shows European carmakers are failing to meet their own EV sales targets because of poor marketing and availability of cars for consumers.
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.