Carmakers renew calls for low-carbon revolution as grim sales figures loom

Some of the EU's largest auto players have called once for a mass rollout of electric vehicle (EV) recharging points and refuelling stations for fuels like hydrogen, as the industry offered up more clues as to how it intends to lessen its climate impact.

The ACEA represents carmakers including Ferrari, Groupe Renault and Volkswagen 

The ACEA represents carmakers including Ferrari, Groupe Renault and Volkswagen 

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has published a 10-point masterplan outlining how it thinks carmakers can help implement the European Commission’s new all-encompassing Green Deal.

As the representative of 16 major Europe-based marques, including Ferrari, Renault and Volkswagen, ACEA is keen to set out its stall for the decade, especially given that new forecasts say that a six-year-long period of car sale growth should come to an end this year.

“At the very time when our industry is massively stepping up investments in zero-emission vehicles, the market is set to contract – not only in the EU but also globally – so the transition to carbon neutrality needs to be very well managed by policymakers,” said group president Michael Manley.

In December, EU countries agreed on a plan that targets net-zero emissions by 2050 and are expected to legally commit to legislation in June this year.

Chief among ACEA’s calls to regulators is the need for a “dense network of charging points and refuelling stations”, which the group has dubbed “one of the single most important enabling conditions for achieving carbon neutrality”.

Industry and clean-mobility advocates generally agree that the only way to spark investment in new facilities is to revise the EU’s existing rules on alternative fuels (AFID) and set targets for member states to follow.

In its plan, ACEA urges the Commission to give special consideration to heavy vehicles like trucks and buses, “as their needs in terms of charging/fuelling capacity and location of infrastructure differ greatly from cars”.

European Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean is expected to come up with her own mobility masterplan in 2020, after Ursula von der Leyen tasked her with drafting a comprehensive strategy for sustainable and smart mobility.

According to the Romanian official’s mission letter, the strategy should look into how the number of charging points can be scaled up. EU sources have told EURACTIV that the roadmap will not be ready until the second half of the year.

Some of the numbers have already been crunched though. NGO Transport & Environment calculated earlier this month that around 185,000 electric charging points are installed across the EU but called for funding that would swell that figure to three million by 2030.

Countries like Germany are already up for the task, on paper. Angela Merkel said in 2019 that the Bundesrepublik alone should have one million chargers by the end of the decade, while powerful carmakers like Volkswagen have stepped up their forays into the e-market.

Spain’s new government also has big plans for the sector and in a climate plan submitted to parliament, it intends to eliminate all emissions from certain vehicle types, although details are still to be confirmed.

But the Commission may go further still and push for stricter carbon dioxide reduction targets for 2025 and 2030, as the Green Deal promises a review by 2021 so as “to ensure a clear pathway from 2025 towards zero-emission mobility”.

ACEA’s 10 point plan insists that the industry is already “striving to reach the CO2 targets set recently” but does not mention an early revision of the benchmarks, aside from urging the Commission to stick with its existing emissions-calculating methodology.

The EU executive has also suggested that it will conduct an impact assessment on including road transport in the bloc’s emissions trading scheme (ETS), along with rolling out the carbon market to shipping.

Climate experts generally agree that the ETS would need a carbon price of more than €200 per tonne to drive any meaningful decarbonisation in the sector, although ACEA insists that “all energy carriers should be part of a stronger ETS”. The current price is around €25.

Sam Morgan, EurActiv.com

This article first appeared on EurActiv.com, an edie content partner



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