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Brussels, 3 December 2010

Market support for clean and energy-efficient vehicles

Clean and energy-efficient vehicles are essential if the European Union is to achieve its 2020 targets for improving energy efficiency, increasing the market share of renewable energy sources, and reducing CO2 emissions. The directive on the promotion of clean and energy-efficient road transport vehicles (1), which applies to all procurements of vehicles for public transport services from this month, will broaden the market. This directive requires public authorities, when buying a vehicle, to take account of its energy consumption, CO2 emissions and pollutant emissions over the vehicle's lifetime.

What will this directive change?

The clean vehicle directive introduces for the first time sustainability obligations into public procurement law for the whole EU. All purchase decisions by public authorities and private operators concerning vehicles for public transport services will now have to take into account the impact of their energy consumption, CO2 emissions and pollutant emissions affecting air quality, integrated over the entire lifetime of vehicles.

Thus, the real costs to be encountered over the lifetime operation of vehicles are anticipated, giving a relative advantage (lower lifetime costs) to vehicles that pollute less and consume less energy. The obligation extends to all purchases of road transport vehicles by public authorities or by transport operators charged with public service obligations.

How are lifetime costs of energy consumption and pollutant emissions calculated?

The directive defines a methodology for the calculation of lifetime cost for energy consumption, CO2 emissions, and pollutant emissions of vehicles:

  • Lifetime cost of energy consumption = cost per unit of energy X energy consumption per km X total lifetime mileage

  • Lifetime cost of CO2 / pollutant emissions = cost per kg of emissions X kg of emissions per km X total lifetime mileage

How will the clean vehicle portal help to identify cleaner and more efficient vehicles?

The clean vehicle portal has been set up to support public procurement of vehicles as well as help private users in buying a cleaner and more energy-efficient car. The portal takes advantage of Europe's largest vehicle database and provides the consumption and emission data of vehicles, as required for the calculation of lifetime cost. It features an online calculator to carry out lifetime cost calculations for the vehicles chosen. An internet forum allows public procurers to team up to joint procurement calls. This should allow aligning and bundling purchases of vehicles to achieve economies of scale with larger volumes.

The portal also gives information on the technical and economic aspects of the different vehicle technologies, including hybrid, electric, biofuel, natural gas, LPG, and hydrogen vehicles. Information is provided on public procurement legislation and specific programmes and incentives for the purchase and operation of clean and energy-efficient vehicles, at EU level and in the different Member States at national, regional, and local levels.

What is the role of public procurement?

Public procurement is the purchasing of goods, services and public works by governments and public utilities. Its importance varies significantly between Member States, ranging between 11% and 20% of GDP. Total public procurement in the EU is estimated at about 16% of the Union’s GDP or €1900 billion (2009 figures).

The opening up of public procurement within the internal market has increased cross-border competition and lowered prices paid by public authorities. All public procurement with some exceptions is subject to EU and international rules. Under these rules public sector procurement must follow transparent open procedures ensuring fair conditions of competition for suppliers across the EU. Some purchases can be exempted from EU rules under certain conditions, e.g. buying vehicles which are not subject to type approval or individual approval.

What features does the clean vehicle portal have?

The portal covers all main types of road vehicles: passenger cars, commercial vehicles, trucks and buses. In particular, users will be able to:

  • search and browse for each type of vehicle under consideration;

  • collect, compare, store and print out vehicles in their own individual watch list;

  • communicate and collaborate with other users in a community section.

The portal offers communication facilities and institutional information linked to public procurement activity, including:

  • procurement rules for the EU and all Member States, on national, regional and local levels;

  • information on support programmes and incentives for clean and energy-efficient vehicles;

  • links to other web resources (including connection to TED: Tenders Electronic Daily, the online version of the EU Official Journal supplement dedicated to public procurement).

  • interactive features for effective joint procurement (collaboration between several administrations for a common procurement) of clean vehicles.

The portal has been launched in three languages (English, French and German) and will be extended to all 27 European official languages of the EU, plus Croatian, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Russian by early 2011.

Why is it so important to also consider a vehicle's energy consumption and emissions?

By including a vehicle's lifetime operational cost for energy consumption, CO2 emissions and pollutant emissions, the economic assessment changes considerably. Operational costs can dominate for high consumption/emission vehicles. Comparison then shifts from the initial vehicle price to its long-term performance. As a result, more energy-efficient and cleaner vehicle technology can be more economic over its operational lifetime, despite a higher initial purchase price. Including the operational cost into the purchase decision therefore is a powerful tool to support innovation and accelerate market penetration of innovative high-performance technologies.

a) New expensive vehicles more economic than cheap old vehicles:

Lifetime cost of a new EURO V bus can be about €100,000 cheaper than for an old EURO III bus, due to lower emission cost.

b) Low-emission CNG bus:

Lifetime cost of a CNG bus can be about €8,000 cheaper than for a EURO V diesel bus, due to lower particulate emissions.

c) Energy-efficient electric car:

Lifetime cost of an electric car can be €5,000 cheaper than for a diesel car, due to lower energy consumption.

Examples for three types of vehicles (bus, diesel car, petrol car) show the relative importance of energy consumption and emissions, when comparing vehicle prices alone with the sum of vehicle price and operational lifetime costs:

Price versus lifetime cost of vehicles

Vehicle type



Lifetime costs (EUR)




NMHC (2)

PM (3)

Price+lifetime costs (EUR)

(lifetime 800,000 km)








Diesel car
(lifetime 200,000 km)








Petrol car

(lifetime 200,000 km)








Further information:

Clean Vehicle Directive:

Clean Vehicle Portal:

See also: IP/10/1654

1 :

Directive 2009/33/EC of 23 April 2009, OJ L120,15.5.2009, p.5-12

2 :

Non-methane hydrocarbons

3 :

Particulate matter

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