Zero-emission car quotas under consideration, Commission confirms

The European Commission has hinted that it might set quotas for carmakers to have a percentage of their fleet made up of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). Brussels is working on a revision of CO2 limits from cars and vans, and comments from an official confirm that a ZEV quota is under consideration. T&E has welcomed the development.

At present, the choice of electric vehicles is still hugely limited compared to that of petrol and diesel cars, which still enjoy purchase cost advantages cars. Equality of costs (measured in total cost of ownership) between electric and fossil fuel cars is expected to be reached sometime between 2020 and 2025 as the costs of batteries and other aspects of electric mobility come down, but the legislative framework is will be a significant factor in the growth in electric cars.

That is why the package of measures revising current CO2 limits is important for the EU’s ability to meet its climate targets. At a conference organised by the European electricity industry association Eurelectric, a member of the cabinet of the Energy Union commissioner Maros Sefcovic said the Commission was seriously considering putting obligatory ZEV quotas in the draft legislation expected in November.

Crucially, the European Parliament’s environment committee also voted to support the development of a zero-emission sales target to drive the market in favour of ultra-low emissions cars. The vote, on an opinion of the EU's Low-emission Mobility strategy, signals the Parliament's desire for ambitious future CO2 standards for cars and vans just a few months before the Commission’s proposal is expected.

Bert Witkamp, the general secretary of the European electric vehicles association Avere, reacted by saying the car industry had accepted that a quota for low-emission or zero-emission vehicles was coming, and that even a representative of Volkswagen had said; ‘If we have to do it, we will do it.’

T&E e-mobility officer Julia Hildermeier said: ‘It’s good that the Commission and Parliament are considering a quota for ZEVs. These cars represent the future unlike the dirty diesels poisoning the air. A mandate has benefits for electricity suppliers and recharging infrastructure providers by providing confidence of future market share. We support a target of 15-20% for 2025.’

Volkswagen has set a target of 25% of its fleet to be made up of battery electric vehicles by 2025, Mercedes and BMW have similar targets, while Volvo aims to sell 1 million battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles by 2025 and that all future models will be electrified.

Last month the Nordic ministers for climate, environment and transport told European commissioners that greater ambition was necessary over the revision of the fuel economy standards in order to promote Europe’s transition to electro-mobility. In a joint letter, the ministers said the EU should prioritise heavy-duty vehicles which have so far been largely exempt from CO2 limits.