EU needs clean vehicle procurement rules to boost e-mobility in cities

(EurActiv, 10 Jan 2019) Many European countries and cities have implemented measures to promote e-mobility. But to create scale in Europe, a constellation of disconnected initiatives is not enough to drive the needed change and action must be taken at a European level, writes Folker Franz.

Folker Franz is Head of Government Relations EU at ABB, a Swiss-Swedish multinational. He wrote this op-ed on behalf of the Platform for Electromobility, a network which brings together NGOs, industry associations, local and regional authorities, manufacturers of electric buses, cars, lorries, ships and charging infrastructure providers.

In October 2018, Environment and Transport ministers signed the “Graz declaration” on clean transport, marking “the beginning of a new era” in which all parties would “work towards a green deal for a new mobility in Europe”. But are they dragging their feet on one of the most important EU dossiers to boost clean mobility in European cities?

The window of opportunity for getting a deal on the Clean Vehicles Directive (CVD) is closing while the need for such a deal has never been so high: air pollution is responsible for 400,000 premature deaths every year, and greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector are still on the rise.

The future of the European e-mobility industry is at stake. Postponing the transition to electric vehicles would only help international competitors become more dominant. For example, while patting ourselves on the back for having roughly 1,600 e-buses on the road in Europe today, the Chinese city of Shenzhen completely electrified its fleet of 16,000 buses in 2018. Overall, China operates close to 400,000 electric buses, and exports them across many markets.

The renewal of public fleets brings huge numbers of new vehicles onto European streets each year – from buses to maintenance vehicles, from social services transport to office car pools. Currently, the large majority of these new vehicles are petrol or diesel driven – vehicles that will remain on our roads for the next 5-10 years, contributing further to CO2 emissions, air and noise pollution.

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EurActiv, 10 Jan 2019: EU needs clean vehicle procurement rules to boost e-mobility in cities