Balancing ambition and reality in the Mobility Transition: Enabling conditions crucial for success – Newsletter Editorial February 2023
The adoption of the proposed revision of the CO2 standards for heavy duty vehicles (HDVs) opens one of the last high profile public debates for the auto industry in this legislative period. The Commission calls a target of zero emissions at the tailpipe of city buses as of 2030. Trucks need to achieve a 90% CO2 reduction in 2040, with a significantly more ambitious trajectory over the 2030 and 2035 milestones than the current rules.
Together with flexibility in the definition of a zero-emission vehicle this makes a signal for technology diversity which is welcome. Electrification and hydrogen in fuel cells and the hydrogen engine will play an important role in the climate neutral mobility and transport of the future, but we need a realistic path to achieve it.
The very ambitious intermediate targets set in 2030 (45%) and 2035 (65%) represent a potential bottleneck that could harm and slow down the pace of the transition, if not supported by a reduction of technology costs and substantial policies that provide the needed infrastructure and encourage vehicle purchase. For the same reasons, the 2030 objectives fixed just four years ago were already uncertain. Achieving a sufficient level of zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) penetration in time is a significant challenge.
No single energy carrier and technology fits all user’s needs and use-cases. If sustainable renewable fuels would be considered for compliance in the CO₂ Regulation for HDVs, Europe could immediately accelerate the decarbonisation of the commercial transport sector including the existing fleet and provide flexibility to companies which need more time to invest in zero emission technology. However, the regulation does not give any impulse for the deployment of renewable fuels.
Putting all this pressure on the industry without all the necessary enabling conditions in place, transition risks missing its objectives and being detrimental to the competitiveness of the European companies. We will not succeed in the transition with ambitious targets alone, we need equal ambition on the rollout of a dense network of charging and refuelling points, availability of renewable fuels, hydrogen, and electricity, raw materials, and affordable vehicles.
CLEPA Secretary General
In: CLEPA News, Electrification, Environment & Energy