Stricter van fuel standards - the business case

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Fuel is an important and rising business cost. Operating a van typically costs around €2400 a year in diesel alone – and fuel bills represent around a third of the total costs of ownership. Vans are also one of the fastest growing sources of transport greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, increasing by 26% between 1995 and 2010 and now accounting for 8% of road transport emissions.3 Further growth is anticipated, in part from the more limited regulation of driving vans compared to trucks.

To counter the rising van CO2 emissions a regulation (510/2011) was introduced in 2011, that requires van manufacturers to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions. However, weakening of the original Commission proposal (135g/km) led to the introduction of a target that only requires a 0.5% fuel economy improvement per year until 2017.

The European Commission recently completed its review of the proposed 2020 target recommending that the current target (147g/km) is retained.4 This is despite evidence that the decision on 147 g/km was based upon information that significantly overestimated both the costs of reducing emissions and actual level of CO2 emissions from vans.

The vans target should be amended to be of equivalent stringency to that for cars

There are five strong reasons for more ambitious fuel economy standards for vans:

• Fuel efficient vans reduce costs for business users improving the competitiveness of European companies;
• The evidence on which the original decision was based was flawed;
• Tighter targets extend the market for low carbon technologies reducing costs, promoting innovation, creating jobs and developing export opportunities;
• Parity between targets for cars and vans would avoid potential “leakage” inadvertently weakening the cars target;
• Stop seven years of largely ineffective legislation, and offset increased emissions from a rapidly expanding vans market.

This briefing outlines the new evidence and demonstrates a compelling case to strengthen the vans target. It is largely based upon a study undertaken by consultants TNO.