Zero-emission vehicle revolution will boost European jobs and economy – analysis

Moving from fossil-fuel powered vehicles to ones driven by renewable energy will create 206,000 net additional jobs in Europe by 2030, a new study has found. The shift to zero-emission vehicles will drive an increase in gross domestic product (GDP) of 0.2% a year in the EU and slash the bloc’s oil imports by €49 billion in 2030, according to the analysis by Cambridge Econometrics for the European Climate Foundation.

It says that by the end of the next decade the purchase costs of plug-in vehicles will be similar to oil-powered cars but total costs of ownership will be much lower. Also, if electric cars are charged when there is plentiful electricity, there will no be significant impact on electricity grids. Smart charging uses the car battery to help balance renewable grids so that it is possible to add additional renewable generation to electricity grids cost-effectively.

European Commission Vice President, Energy Union, Maroš Šefčovič highlighted the potential for the battery industry from shifting to zero emissions. Commenting at the report’s launch, he said: ‘The drive for batteries will be worth €250 billion a year by 2025. Other parts of the world are moving; we need to make sure the EU leads on clean mobility.’

T&E executive director William Todts said: ‘This study proves definitively that low-carbon cars are good for drivers, the European economy, our health and the environment, but that zero-carbon cars are even better. Vice President Šefčovič is right to say that citizens' patience with bad air quality is running out. We need to seize the opportunity that electromobility offers in order to clean up the air in our cities and avoid becoming dependent on the auto technologies produced in other regions of the world.’

According to one of the report’s scenarios, Europe would be on track to reduce CO2 emissions from cars by 88% by 2050. The associated technology improvements would cut NOx emissions from cars from around 1.3 million tonnes per year to around 70,000 tonnes per year, helping reduce air pollution which causes 467,000 premature deaths in Europe every year.

The study also investigated the effect of importing battery cells from Asia and found there were still benefits to the European economy from a shift to electromobility, albeit smaller. However, manufacturing in Europe is considered more likely so long as the cars are also made here.

William Todts added: ‘The risk to the European economy is that we get left behind by failing to sell and use electric cars. The Chinese have created a world-leading domestic market and with that helped build the biggest electric vehicle manufacturing industry in the world. China has recently attracted lots of investments, including from European automakers. Europe needs to catch up quickly to drive investment here. If we fail to do so, it will be Chinese-built electric cars driving on Europe’s roads in a few years.’

As the EU debates new car CO2 limits and sales target for zero emission vehicles, T&E has called for a mandate to match that in China – with penalties for non-compliance – and ambitious CO2 limits for new cars in 2025.