Statement from the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA)
Today the European Commission unveiled its Mobility Package of proposals for making transport more efficient. This package is the first of two parts containing a range of legislative initiatives, entitled “Europe on the Move – An agenda for a socially fair transition toward clean, competitive and connected mobility.” The second part is expected to be passed in November.
The Commission’s proposals cover diverse options for optimizations in the transport sector. That is the correct and important action to take, because only an integrated approach exhausting all the efficiency potentials and including all road users can make the transport and mobility of the future safe and clean, and cope efficiently with future growth in transport. For example, the Commission expects passenger traffic to increase by 42 percent during the period from 2010 to 2050, and the rise forecast for the freight transport sector is a whole 60 percent.
A long-term strategy is needed for road traffic because the product cycles for passenger cars are 5 to 7 years, and twice as long for trucks. Furthermore, commercial vehicles usually have very long service lives. Therefore the question arises of why the Commission does not take a longer-term view in its concept “Mobility in Europe 2025.” Here it would be logical to have congruence with the EU targets agreed for 2030.
Given the broad approach of the mobility package, it is surprising that diesels are not included as an important technology for reducing CO2. After all, it is clear that gasoline vehicles and diesels will remain a key pillar of mobility in the coming years. They still have the potential to reduce consumption by another 10 to 15 percent. Today we cannot tell which type of propulsion will be in particular demand 15 or 20 years from now. The German automotive industry is therefore pushing the further development of efficient powertrains consistently on all fronts. And the European Commission should also keep all powertrains and fuels in its sights.
One positive aspect is the Commission’s strong focus on digitization, because it offers huge potential for additional improvements in road safety and environmental protection. The German automotive industry holds 58 percent of all patents worldwide for connected and automated driving – so it is a driving force in this field. For these technologies to develop their full benefit in the future, a digital infrastructure will be necessary in addition to the transport infrastructure.
The proposals for revising the EU toll directive threaten to bring considerable extra burdens in the long term both for private citizens and for businesses. More adjustments will be needed here as the process continues. By contrast, the proposed truck toll differentiation based on CO2 is a fundamentally suitable means for creating the correct incentives to encourage investments in climate-friendly technologies.
After the Member States paved the way on May 11, 2017, for determining CO2 emissions from heavy-duty commercial vehicles using the new VECTO tool (Vehicle Energy Consumption Calculation Tool), the Commission is now also proposing a system for CO2 monitoring and reporting. It will create additional transparency and enhance competition between the manufacturers because the customers are better able to select their new vehicles with a view to fuel efficiency. Even without being required to do so by law, the commercial vehicle industry has continually made considerable improvements in the efficiency and consumption of its new vehicles over recent years. Since the mid-1990s alone, it has decreased the fuel consumption of new vehicles by more than 20 percent. Further improvements will follow. At the same time, pollutant emissions have been reduced in real-world driving by around 95 percent.
The Mobility Package explicitly draws attention to the potentials of optimized aerodynamics for commercial vehicles and trailers. That is correct, but there are still considerable legal and practical hurdles to actual implementation. For example, it is still not possible to introduce aerodynamic rear flaps on trailers, as they may extend beyond the permissible total vehicle length only when folded out during the journey. This is, however, not allowed when they are folded up while the vehicle is stationary. Yet when folded up, the flaps add to the length of the body. So action is urgently needed from the European Commission to adapt Regulation 1230/2012.