• Commission bends to car industry pressure

    EC plan for a 2020 competitive car and lorry industry omits key environmental promises.The Commission’s Cars 2020 Action Plan (1) for a competitive and sustainable automotive industry in Europe announced today fails to address key strategic challenges such as climate change. Sustainable transport campaigners, Transport & Environment (T&E), have identified important omissions from the plans. This follows earlier announcements this week that other key policies to reduce the environmental impact of vehicles are being shelved.


    Notable gaps in the action plan are a strategy to reduce emissions from lorries and to provide consumers with reliable information about fuel costs from cars.

    Greg Archer of T&E said: “This is a Swiss cheese of an action plan – full of holes – which weakens its effectiveness. There is no mention of a CO2 emissions reduction strategy for road freight (unlike the trucks on the road), denying EU businesses opportunities for significant fuel savings. It also omits energy efficiency labels for cars that would provide consumers with easily understandable and reliable information they need to choose fuel efficient cars.”

    This follows information obtained from the Commission that:

    1.     planned legislation to improve van efficiency (through requiring the fitting of gear shift indicators to help improve fuel economy) was being parked due to weak car sales in parts of Europe.

    2.     proposals to reduce air pollution emissions from cars are also being delayed.

    3.     A long-awaited communication on setting fuel economy targets for cars and vans for after 2020 is also being held back.

    Greg Archer added, “The future competitiveness of the European car industry depends upon its ability to respond to global strategic challenges like climate change. This 2020 action plans fails to adequately respond to this challenge.Smart, green regulation has driven innovation in the European automotive industry and contributed to its global leadership. Delaying and weakening regulations to improve fuel economy puts that competitive advantage at risk. The European motor industry needs to continue to innovate and develop cleaner, more efficient vehicles. It is what their customers deserve and what the planet needs.”

    Despite claims that the motor industry is in crisis, car production in Europe grew by 5% to nearly 16 million vehicles in 2011, close to past levels. This growth is fuelled by strong exports.

    “The industry constantly argues it needs long lead times to respond to regulations. That is why we should be agreeing fuel economy standards for 2025 now. Without long-term targets carmakers will reduce investment in developing low carbon vehicles. That will provide an opportunity for their competitors in emerging economies to catch up. This is bad for the long-term competitiveness of the automotive industry in Europe; bad for drivers fuel bills and bad for the environment”, Greg Archer concluded.