European Agenda

    Fleet limits: Cars and light commercial vehicles may emit this much CO₂

    Average emissions from newly registered vehicles may currently not exceed 95g CO₂ per kilometer driven. The European Commission is considering revising this.

    Average emissions from newly registered vehicles may currently not exceed 95g CO₂ per kilometer driven. The European Commission is considering revising this.

    On the path to climate-neutral mobility

    The European Green Deal is intended to lay the foundation for Europe's path to becoming the first climate-neutral continent. This gives us the chance to think holistically about climate protection for the period after 2030. The path from 2030 to a climate-neutral continent needs a reliable long-term framework.

    The German automotive industry is taking up the challenge of climate protection. Our goal is climate-neutral mobility by 2050 at the latest —in line with the Paris climate targets. To achieve this, we are relying on innovations and technologies. The rapid ramp-up of electric mobility (BEV and PHEV) has priority until 2030. This applies, in particular, to passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. The entire industry is investing more than 50 billion euros in this technology over the next few years. To achieve the goal of climate-neutral transport by 2050 at the latest, other alternative drives and fuels, such as e-fuels and hydrogen, will also be part of the solution to address the vehicle fleet and also defossilize transportation when electrification solutions reach their limits.

    The goal of greenhouse neutrality is to be brought forward to 2045 in Germany. In addition, a national climate target for 2030 of minus 65% is envisaged, which corresponds to the new EU climate target for 2030 of minus 55%. This means making vehicles and all stages of the value chain climate neutral five years earlier. The prerequisites for climate-neutral transport must be created correspondingly earlier. This presupposes that electricity and all other energy sources are completely climate-neutral. The infrastructure must enable Europe-wide charging for all electrified vehicles, from passenger cars to heavy commercial vehicles, with fuels completely defossilized. The efficiency of the transportation system must increase significantly by way of digitalization and networking, including automated driving.

    The future fleet limits must be designed in such a way that the climate targets for 2030, but mainly those for 2050 or an earlier date, can be achieved. They must be aligned with an overarching regulatory framework, attainable for companies and acceptable for society. The achievability of ambitious fleet limits also depends on preconditions that the automotive industry cannot create on its own.

    The future fleet limits must help to drive the transformation. However, it must be taken into account that the market success of electromobility currently varies greatly in different member states, which depends on a variety of factors, such as the very different conditions in terms of infrastructure and promotion, but also purchasing power and usage habits. The weaker the market ramp-up is in other member states, the higher the new registration rate needs to be in Germany. A tightening of targets presupposes reacting to these disparities with measures that are coordinated across the EU but tailored to the national situation. Ambitious fleet targets cannot be achieved if electromobility is only successful in a few member states.

    Bringing forward the climate neutrality target to 2045 means a steeper reduction path for those CO2 emissions still permitted. This places additional demands on industry, infrastructure, and framework conditions. Companies must significantly accelerate investments and processes, while politicians have increased responsibility to coordinate this. The preconditions necessary to enable climate-neutral transportation must be created more quickly. Most worthy of mention here are:

    • A faster expansion of the infrastructure, especially a comprehensive charging and refueling infrastructure for most of the European vehicle fleet, which must then be electrified or run based on renewable fuels.
    • The generation of 100% renewable electricity and 100% renewable fuels for transportation for which direct electricity use is not possible — this also requires accelerated grid expansion at all levels
    • The digitalization and networking of transportation, in particular the comprehensive guarantee of intelligent infrastructure and seamless network coverage
    • The legal and infrastructural prerequisites for autonomous driving throughout Europe.

    It is important to note that climate neutrality is both a European and an international task. Targets and framework conditions should be harmonized across Europe. Tougher national targets alone will not help the climate. Rather, there is a danger of inefficiencies in implementation. The goal must be a uniform CO2 price that is as effective as possible worldwide.

    This transformation will only succeed if investments, innovations, and infrastructure are clearly oriented towards this goal: Within the companies, but also among political responsibility at all levels. Without long-term stable and technology-open conditions, without massive investments in infrastructure and innovations for all relevant technologies, also on the part of the EU and the member states, this transformation cannot succeed.

    Brussels office

    Mitja Schulz


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