In reaction to today's vote (May 7, 2013) on reducing CO2 emissions from vans by the European Parliament's Environment Committee (ENVI), the European Automobile Association (ACEA) has again called for a more realistic balance between the competitiveness of the industry and environmental concerns.
The auto industry has a strong track record for meeting its environmental obligations.
"No other industry sector has done as much in driving down emission levels, both from its products and its production sites," stated Ivan Hodac, ACEA Secretary General.
"We are committed further progress. However it is essential that policy makers take into account the realities in which the industry operates."
The commercial vehicle segment of the industry has been particularly hard hit by the economic crisis, with registrations dropping by 39% between 2007 and 2012.
One issue of grave concern to the auto industry is the setting of long-term targets without any impact assessment.
Hodac: "We cannot afford to play political games with this industry, especially in these economic times. Targets for both vans and cars need to be fact-based. At this stage, even the European Commission does not have an analysis of what the post-2020 targets for vans should be. The only basis for the figures that ENVI came up with today is political horse-trading."
The 2020 target for vans of 147g CO2/km is extremely ambitious, with independent studies showing that it will only be achievable with full hybrid technologies.
As vans are first and foremost business tools used by SMEs, there is extremely high price sensitivity, with purchasing and operating costs being the number one decision factor. Given this price sensitivity and other barriers like recharging needs, consumer acceptance of the more expensive hybrid and electrified vans has been poor to date.
Indeed just 2,383 electric vans were registered across the EU in 2011. There is also great uncertainty regarding future market penetration of these new technologies.
"Despite not yet being in strong demand by the market, low-emitting vans are in strong demand by legislators and opinion leaders," commented ACEA Secretary General, Ivan Hodac. ACEA therefore calls for more effective 'super-credits', which are incentives for investing in innovative clean technologies.
"Super-credits represent a zero-cost support mechanism which has a minimum impact on the overall fleet target," Hodac explained.
"As super-credits are the only tool on the EU level that can stimulate market uptake of electrically-chargeable vans, it is important that they are effective. It is in everyone's interest to get these clean vehicles on the roads."