Trilogue on CO2 standards concluded: 100% target requires matching ambition for charging and refuelling infrastructure and a thorough review

The European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament reached an agreement in Trilogue on CO2 emission standards for cars and vans. The co-legislators confirmed the 100% reduction target in 2035, the revision of the text in 2026 and the recital 9a on the role of CO2-neutral fuels after 2035.

On the outcome of the agreement, CLEPA’s Secretary General Benjamin Krieger states:

“The 100% target, the implicit ban on the internal combustion engine, is the most ambitious such target worldwide. We stand for climate-neutral mobility and stand ready to deliver the technologies to make climate-neutral mobility a reality. The most ambitious vehicle target will not succeed, if not accompanied by policies to ensure charging and refuelling infrastructure, green energy, access to raw materials and a just transition.”

The regulation foresees a review in the year 2026, which shall cover not only the deployment of zero-emission vehicles but also of charging infrastructure, availability of green energy and fuels, affordability of vehicles and the impact on the industry.

Benjamin Krieger goes on to say:

“Electrification needs to play an important role in the implementation of this regulation, but there are uncertainties, which we need to acknowledge: Availability of raw materials, affordable vehicles, tightly knit charging and refuelling infrastructure and sufficient renewable energy are important for its success. Not least, in times of rapidly rising energy prices. With a large proportion of raw materials concentrated in few sources, the risk of new dependencies rises. The review must be an opportunity to correct course where needed.”

Automotive suppliers are investing billions in innovation, reskilling programs, and new facilities, but the capacity for investments is at risk. Up to 70% of automotive suppliers have seen their profitability drop to unsustainable levels amid inflation and rising cost for energy and raw materials. It is increasingly important to strike a balance between climate, industrial and social needs.

Suppliers have long been arguing for technology diversity to ensure the most efficient and effective approach to cutting emissions prevails and to ensure a manageable transition. Technology diversity includes full electrification, hybrid drivetrains and vehicles running on hydrogen, either in gas engines or fuel cells. All of these technologies are climate neutral if running on renewable energy, in the form of green electricity or renewable hydrogen and fuels.

“The regulation calls for a role for renewable fuels also in new vehicles. It is up to the Commission to make a proposal for this to materialise, alongside a methodology for life-cycle-analysis to ensure effective emission reduction”, says Krieger.

Ambassadors and European Parliament have yet to formally ratify the agreement before the regulation can enter into force. The next step is the adoption of a proposal for CO2 standards for trucks foreseen in the coming months, revising the reduction targets set in 2019. Even more than for cars, a technology-open approach is necessary to decarbonise heavy-duty vehicles.

Hydrogen or CO2-neutral fuels, for example, can effectively reduce emissions to net-zero, alongside electrification, which may not be the most cost-efficient approach for all commercial transport needs.


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