Clean and energy efficient vehicles

EESC opinion: Clean and energy efficient vehicles

Key points

  • The EESC endorses the rationale for the Clean Vehicles Directive although it will have only a small impact compared to the general efforts needed to achieve the EU's climate objectives and in particular the decarbonisation of transport, since the directive is limited to public procurement only.
  • The Committee would criticise in particular a scattering of information, with different definitions, and the complicated counting methods for "clean vehicles" over two distinct time periods during which the definitions for emission thresholds will very likely change again.
  • The EESC doubts that the transition period until 2025 will really help to bridge the technology gap until zero emissions at tail-pipe becomes broadly available. As a consequence, procurements might either be greatly delayed or even accelerated, but with old technology, which would then block possible future investments into new zero emission technology.
  • For heavy-duty vehicles there are no emission standards available to be used in the transition period and the zero at tale-pipe technology is less mature compared to light vehicles. The EESC considers that the directive is premature concerning heavy vehicles and recommends separating this part from the present proposal and dealing with it at a later stage.
  • The EESC notes that propulsion technologies other than electric vehicles with batteries also provide great potential for clean mobility. In this regard, the EESC regrets that this is not well enough acknowledged by the directive.
  • In view of the ongoing developments in modern transport technology, for the years to come the EESC recommends therefore a more flexible approach rather than fixed emission thresholds and procurement targets.
  • A major share of public procurement is related to local public transport bodies which are in the hands of cities and municipalities, the financial scope of which is quite limited. It is not evident, therefore, that an extra burden in public procurement for mainly cities and municipalities is the most efficient way to trigger industry activities and market developments.
  • The EESC emphasises that any additional costs can lead to a significant burden for citizens through higher ticket prices, higher local taxes or even a reduction of the public transport offering.
  • The EESC concludes that the main obstacle to the modernisation of public transport and the public procurement of clean vehicles is the lack of financial support and urges the Commission to reconsider the proposal with a focus on financing, in particular by taking into account existing instruments.