EU truck and bus makers call for enabling conditions to decarbonise transport sector

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has issued a statement on the EU’s proposed CO2 regulation for trucks and buses, saying that vehicles are not the bottleneck, but rather the lack of infrastructure and incentives for transport operators.

The European Commission has unveiled a proposal to amend the EU’s CO2 standards for trucks, trailers, and buses, in a bid to reduce carbon emissions and achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The proposal sets attainable CO2 emission reduction targets to break the current impasse and accelerate the zero-emission transition.

EU truck and bus makers call for enabling conditions to decarbonise transport sector
EU truck and bus makers call for enabling conditions to decarbonise transport sector

According to the proposal, new heavy trucks and buses must cut nearly all CO2 emissions by 2040. The proposal also replaces the EU’s current shorter-term requirement that manufacturers must ensure a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 compared to 2019/2020 levels. Additionally, the proposal mandates that all new city buses must be zero-emission by 2030.

The new targets are in line with the EU’s Green Deal and Fit for 55 package, which aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

ACEA welcomes the proposal but warns of challenges

The ACEA, which represents the interests of 15 major truck and bus manufacturers in Europe, has welcomed the Commission’s proposal as a clear signal to industry to pursue a zero-emission pathway by investing in innovative technologies. However, the association also warned that key factors essential for the market uptake of zero-emission vehicles – which are outside manufacturers’ control – are holding back their rollout in the EU.

The ACEA pointed out that the lack of a dense network of suitable charging and refuelling stations, effective carbon pricing measures, and a framework that supports and incentivises transport operators to transition swiftly are stymying vital demand for zero-emission models. For instance, while the intent of the EU’s Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) is commendable – setting ambitious targets for member states – it falls short of needs. It is anything but certain that the electric charging and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure for heavy-duty vehicles will be available in time.

The ACEA also stressed that heavy-duty vehicles are tools serving a myriad of different uses, often tailored to the specific needs of logistics and public transport operators. As such, the legal framework to decarbonise heavy-duty vehicles with highly diverse applications must differ from that for light-duty vehicles such as cars and vans.

ACEA calls for enabling conditions and policy coherence

The ACEA urged the EU institutions and member states to work together to create the enabling conditions for a successful transition to zero-emission mobility in the transport sector. This includes providing adequate funding and financing schemes, ensuring policy coherence and consistency, and fostering public acceptance and awareness.

The association also called for a holistic approach that considers the entire life cycle of vehicles, from production to end-of-life. The ACEA highlighted the need for a circular economy strategy that promotes the reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling of vehicle components and materials, as well as the development of renewable and low-carbon fuels.

The ACEA concluded that truck and bus manufacturers are ready to play their role in decarbonising this essential sector, but they cannot do it alone. They need the support of policymakers, infrastructure providers, energy suppliers, customers, and society at large.

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