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“Green” vehicles: a European strategy

On 28 April 2010, the European Commission presented a strategy for clean and energy efficient vehicles (“green vehicles”) aimed at encouraging the development and market uptake of these vehicles. This strategy will enable the environmental impact of road transport to be reduced and will boost the competitiveness of the automobile industry. This action comes under the framework of the Europe 2020 strategy.

ACT

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee of 28 April 2010 - A European strategy on clean and energy efficient vehicles [COM(2010)186 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

This Communication details several lines of action aimed at encouraging the development of “green” vehicles and the market uptake of these vehicles.

Vehicles covered by the strategy

The strategy proposed by the European Commission covers:

  • conventional vehicles using conventional internal combustion engines;
  • vehicles using alternative fuels such as liquid biofuels or gaseous fuels (LPG, CNG and biogas);
  • battery electric vehicles or the plug-in rechargeable type;
  • hydrogen fuel cell vehicles which produce water vapour.

This strategy concerns light- and heavy-duty vehicles, two- and three-wheelers and quadricycles.

The Action Plan established by the strategy covers the following areas with flagship initiatives.

Regulatory framework

This strategy will implement the framework relating to new passenger vehicles which sets CO2 emissions performance standards.

The Commission has proposed a Regulation on type-approval requirements for two- and three-wheelers and quadricycles. The Commission announces its intention to formulate a proposal to reduce the fuel consumption impact of mobile air conditioning systems. There will also be a future proposal on fuel consumption of, and CO2 emissions from, heavy-duty vehicles.

Supporting research and innovation

It is vital that research work is carried out on electric cars and those equipped with hydrogen fuel cells. The manufacturing of these cars and their components is expensive, but research would enable the costs to be reduced. In particular, new materials must be investigated for use in batteries and for storage of hydrogen, as well as alternative charging and energy storage technologies.

In this context, the Commission will propose a long term research strategy in the Strategic Transport Technology Plan and in the Communication on Clean Transport Systems.

Market uptake

Consumers have an important role to play with regard to the demand for green vehicles. To stimulate the latter, consumers must be informed of the multiple options, advantages and practical aspects of this type of vehicle. Similarly, financial incentives to buy vehicles represent interesting alternatives for encouraging their market uptake.

To this end, the Commission plans to present guidelines on financial incentives to consumers to buy green vehicles, which will encourage coordination of demand-side measures adopted in Member States. It also wishes to work on a revision of the energy taxation Directive with the aim of incentivising consumers to use conventional fuels efficiently and to gradually adopt alternative low-carbon emitting fuels.

The Commission will also ensure that the Directive on clean and energy-efficient road transport vehicles is implemented.

Global issues Aspects

It is essential that there is a level playing field for everyone in the world markets. Similarly, fair access to the raw materials required for the production of hydrogen fuel cells should be ensured so that a potential shortage does not hamper the competitiveness of EU industry.

The Commission wishes to engage in standardisation activities in the world markets and to carry out regulatory cooperation initiatives.

Employment

With the prospect of a transition towards sustainable mobility, employees in the automobile sector must have suitable skills (which are quite rare at the moment) in the field of green vehicles. To make up for the lack of skills in the workforce, the Commission plans to use funding from the European Social Fund starting in 2011 to launch initiatives which encourage retraining and upskilling.

The Commission will also establish a “European Sectoral Skills Council”.

Specific actions for electric vehicles

A European framework for electric mobility does not currently exist. As a result, this Communication highlights several actions required to establish a regulatory framework for this technology.

Through working together with international partners at the UNECE, the Commission will propose technical rules relating to electric safety for vehicle type-approval.

In 2010 the Commission will mandate the European Committee for Standardization, the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute to develop by 2011 a standardised charging interface to ensure interoperability and connectivity between the electricity supply point and the charger of the electric vehicle.

Furthermore, an adequate electric charging network needs to be developed in order to meet the needs of electric car users.

The Commission will also evaluate whether the promotion of electric vehicles will lead to the additional provision of low-carbon electricity generation.

Governance

The European strategy on green vehicles should contribute to the development of sustainable transport in Europe and reinforce Europe’s capacity to produce smart and sustainable products in a key sector. Implementing the strategy requires a significant level of effort and coordination between the automobile industry and electricity providers, gas companies, grid managers, electric component manufacturers, scientific and standardisation bodies, as well as EU, national and regional authorities, municipalities and consumers.

The Commission will ensure coordination and co-operation with Member States on the actions of this strategy in particular to secure the internal market, to avoid fragmentation of efforts, to create sufficient critical mass for the industry and to monitor and discuss national developments.

In order to facilitate collaboration with stakeholders, the Commission proposes to re-launch the "CARS 21" High Level Group with a revised mandate and extended stakeholder involvement.

Last updated: 15.07.2010
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