Big businesses want EU zero-emission vehicle mandate for corporate fleets

Image: E.On

A position paper on the mandate convened by The Climate Group’s EV100 initiative, which unites 129 businesses in fleet decarbonisation targets, was sent to EU lawmakers late last week.

Position paper signatories include pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, drinks bottler Coca-Cola Europacifc Partners and digital connectivity major Openreach. Retailers Tesco, IKEA and Currys also feature, as do energy firms EDF, E.On and Iberdrola.

The paper states that the mandate should apply to both big businesses which either own or operate fleets. It should outline appropriate dates for a full transition to zero-tailpipe-emission models for fleets consisting of large, small and heavy-duty vehicles – the latter of which would be further into the future.

Interim targets and guidance on vehicle technology options could also be provided.

The paper states that the EU has already taken several steps to create an enabling environment for big businesses to add zero-emission vehicles to their fleets. These include setting ever tighter emissions regulations, confirming a 2035 ban on new petrol and diesel light vehicle sales, and coordinating the delivery of infrastructure for alternative fuels.

Nonetheless, there are regional issues preventing more rapid deployment, such as a lack of charging infrastructure and a dearth of affordable vehicle options for specialist applications.

E.on Drive’s chief executive Davide Villa said: “Implementing a mandate for transport decarbonisation is crucial for achieving our climate goals and ensuring a sustainable future. Such a mandate provides businesses with the necessary certainty to invest in infrastructure and electric fleets today, paving the way for a significant reduction in emissions.

“Clear and binding decarbonisation plans enable companies like E.ON Drive to proactively address challenges such as grid connectivity, ensuring a smoother transition to electrified fleets. This not only accelerates our collective efforts towards a zero-emission future but also strengthens Europe’s position as a leader in climate action.”

Manufacturing boost

Transitioning a large portion of the private sector to zero-emission fleets “along a coordinated timeline”, the paper stipulates, “would send an ever-clearer signal that the EU is a key market for zero-emission vehicles. Manufacturers would respond, and international inward investment would be unlocked.

The EU is aiming to produce 40% of its low-carbon technologies within the bloc, including electric light vehicles. As such, it has hiked tariffs on imports from markets like China and the US – but has been called upon to do more to stimulate its own manufacturing hubs, in line with the offers in these major competitor economies.

The will from businesses to buy these vehicles is clear. Under EV100, businesses have collectively pledged to switch almost 5.5 million fleet vehicles to electric by 2030 globally, and to install supporting charging infrastructure. Each participating firm should aim to electrify at least half of their fleet vehicles under 3.5 tonnes this decade.

Some firms have set stronger commitments to procure and contract only zero-emission vehicles of this size by 2030 and achieve the same milestone for larger vehicles by 2040. This EV100+ commitment covers 90,000 vehicles.

Fleet purchases are already driving zero-emission vehicle sales in the UK. British trade body the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed last week that businesses and private sector bodies account for more than 80% of new battery electric vehicle purchases, meaning they lead ahead of individual motorists.

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