The communication is aimed at helping European industry play a leading role in promoting and developing cleaner transport technology over the next decades. It contains an action plan that mentions for the first time the need to limit CO2 emissions from heavy lorries.
This was given a cautious welcome by T&E director Jos Dings who said, ‘These aspirations should be welcomed. But talk is cheap, and the Commission has shown a tendency in the past to lose its nerve when it comes to making legislative proposals, most recently in October when it announced weakened CO2 targets for vans.’
The main part of the communication suggested a number of measures to help carmakers develop electric cars. These included promoting common standards that will allow electric vehicles to be charged anywhere in the EU, ensuring safety standards are the same as for oil-fuelled vehicles, and encouraging a network of publicly accessible charging points.
With a number of companies close to testing new electric models, the Commission has set itself a target of 2012 for safety and charging standards to be in place. But T&E argued that there are more issues that will need to be resolved if electric cars are to be a success from an environmental point of view.
‘The Commission hasn’t addressed two of the most critical issues: ensuring that the extra electricity needed will boost renewable sources, and the need for smart meters in every vehicle to keep track of consumption and the carbon-intensity of electricity. These two issues will be critical to ensuring that electric cars really do reduce emissions’ said Dings.