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 use of palm oil for EU biofuels dwarfs the amount used to make cookies, hazelnut spreads, ice cream, shampoo, lipsticks – and other food and cosmetic products. That’s according to new industry data which shows diesel cars and trucks burned 51% of all the palm oil used in Europe in 2017.
The biggest failure of the current car CO2 has been the failure to deliver emissions reductions on the road. Whilst new car CO2 emissions measured using the obsolete laboratory test (NEDC) have fallen by 31% since 2000, on the road the reduction is just, 11%. The gap between test and real-world performance has leapt from 9 to 42% weakening the regulation, increasing CO2 emissions and raising fuel bills for drivers. The underlying issue was basing the regulation on laboratory tests. Whilst the new WLTP addresses some loopholes, its introduction also creates new flexibilities that the car industry are planning to exploit to undermine both the current regulation to 2020/1 and proposed future regulations for 2025/30.
In response to congestion and high local pollution cities are increasingly using vehicle access restrictions to limit the number of cars on their roads and ensure those which grossly pollute are not allowed in. Following the dieselgate emissions scandal (that exposed the failure of modern diesel vehicles to adequately control toxic fumes when operated on the road), there is a new focus on deploying Low Emission Zones and Diesel Bans. Today there are around 40 million grossly polluting diesel cars and vans on the EU’s roads but national vehicle approval authorities remain reluctant to mandate manufacturers to implement fixes.
Shifting to zero-emission vehicles in Europe will create jobs and drive economic growth, a major new study released today by Cambridge Econometrics for the European Climate Foundation reveals. The analysis, endorsed by Transport & Environment (T&E) and a host of corporations, including from the motor industry, found that moving away from vehicles powered by oil to ones driven by renewable energy will create 206,000 net additional jobs by 2030.
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.
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.
The recent European Commission proposal on CO2 regulations for cars and vans to 2030 has provided the car industry with an early christmas gift. The unambitious 3%pa improvement rate and removal of a binding sales target for zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) followed last minute lobbying by carmakers. With Vice President Sefcovic, and the architects of the package Commissioners Cañete, Bulc and Bienkowksa all aligned in favour of a system of credits and, crucially, debits for carmakers that exceeded or breached a ZEV sales target, the package was virtually finalised before a last-minute intervention diluted the proposal.
On 8 November the European Commission has the opportunity to transform the European car industry and keep Europe safe and competitive in a decarbonised world. On that day the EU executive will propose a law that regulates the fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions of new cars and vans. The choices it makes – what level of ambition, a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate or not, 2025 target or not – will determine the future of the European and global auto industry.