• EU agrees weakened van emissions law as industry says ‘crisis over’

    The European Parliament has approved weakened CO2 / fuel efficiency standards for vans (light commercial vehicles). The final law says the average new van sold in the EU should emit no more than 175g CO2/km in 2017 and 147g CO2/km in 2020. The original European Commission proposal of 135g CO2/km in 2020 was weakened under enormous pressure from vehicle manufacturers.

    [mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]Vehicle manufacturers spent most of 2010 claiming that their industry was in economic crisis and that improving van fuel efficiency at the rate needed would be prohibitively expensive. However, regarding the economic impacts, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, reported last month that global sales had picked up last year. “After the great crisis of 2009 and the associated market declines, we are again last year returned to the level of our record sales in 2007 and 2008” they said in a press release (1).

    On the costs of improving efficiency and cutting emissions, research carried out for T&E by TNO/CE Delft showed that by simply returning to the engine power levels of 1997, fuel costs and CO2 emissions could be cut by up to 16%, vehicle purchase costs by up to 10%, and total cost of ownership by up to 12%. The changes required could also be introduced quickly and in existing models (2). In short, the cost of buying and running vans would go down rather than up.

    Because CO2 emissions and fuel efficiency are directly linked, weaker emissions standards mean vans will use more fuel. Fuel is a major cost to small businesses who depend on vans to run their operations.

    Kerstin Meyer, senior campaigner at T&E said: “The industry used a short dip in sales to justify weakening a 10-year strategy to improve fuel efficiency, that would have saved van operators money for many years to come. When vehicle manufacturers cry wolf yet again, policymakers should take a long term view.“

    (1) See VW Commercial Vehicles press release of 19 January 2011. English text above via Google Translate
    (2) See TNO/CE report.