EU’s Fit for 55: carmakers blow hot and cold
In an initial reaction to the EU Commission’s ‘Fit for 55’ climate proposals, European carmakers are blowing hot and cold through their Brussels-based federation ACEA. European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) says it is “eager to study the full details” to start with.
On the one hand, they support climate neutrality by 2050 and even applaud higher prices for fossil fuels through ETS carbon pricing to stimulate the transition. But, on the other, they break a lance for the ‘highly efficient’ internal combustion engine (ICE) to be ‘spared’ from damnation in 2035 and be used with low- and zero-carbon fuels.
Speed up transformation
The carmakers are convinced the proposed CO2 reduction of 55% by 2030 (compared to 2021 levels) ‘will be very challenging’. “It will significantly speed up the structural transformation of the automotive value chain, requiring careful management to minimize the impact on our economy and jobs,” the press release states.
ACEA President and CEO of BMW, Olivier Zipse, subtly points out that the new CO2 standards will require a massive increase in the demand for electric vehicles in a short timeframe. It will require a corresponding binding target for member states to build up the required charging and refueling infrastructure.
The EU Commission proposes that the member states to build fast-charging points up to 300 kW every 60 kilometers on major highways and hydrogen refueling points every 150 kilometers.
Targets fall short
ACEA says it is “very concerned that the targets fall far short of what is required, with a worrying reference to just 3,5 million charging points by 2030.” Yet, according to the Commission’s own assessment, by 2050, six million publicly available charging points will be needed.
And this should include sufficient high-power chargers for electric trucks, as ACEA warned earlier. In April, ACEA and NGO Transport & Environment warned in a joint letter to the EU Commission for three to six times more zero-emission trucks to hit the road by 2030 than assumed so far by the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, which counts on 80 000.
To accommodate this fleet, both organizations plead for stringent standards for all member states by the EU to have a network of at least 11 000 heavy EV truck chargers and 300 hydrogen filling stations by 2025. By 2030, this should be 42 000 public heavy-duty chargers and 1 000 H2-filling stations at least.
But going purely electric won’t bring universal happiness either, ACEA warns. It’s not willing to give up the combustion engine and hybrid solutions it sells well today, especially the German premium brands.
Banning a single technology
“It is not the internal combustion engine that is detrimental to the environment, but fossil-based fuels. Without the availability of renewable fuels, a 100% reduction target in 2035 is effectively a ban on the internal combustion engine,” says the press release. “Banning a single technology is not a rational way forward at this stage – especially when Europe is still struggling to get the right enabling conditions in place for alternatively-powered vehicles.”
Meanwhile, ACEA, which also represents the European truck manufacturers, is not opposed to making fuels for road transport gradually more expensive. “The extension of the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) to road transport fuels is also welcome as it will help to put a visible price on carbon, thus incentivizing the use of low- and zero-carbon fuels. Moreover, if the regulatory framework is set right, this could help make zero-emission vehicles competitive and attractive for our customers.