Greening Freight Transport package: what does it mean for EU auto makers?
The European Commission has launched its long-awaited Greening Freight Transport package, a Green Deal initiative seeking to reduce road transport emissions significantly. ACEA unwraps the European Commission’s package in more detail and delves into what its latest proposal means for Europe’s auto industry.
Cautious optimism on EU Weights and Dimensions proposal
Zero-emission vehicles require more weight, axle load, and space. The revision of the Weights and Dimensions (W&D) Directive could contribute to creating a level-playing field with conventionally powered vehicles, an adjustment European truck and bus manufacturers have called for.
While many finer details need to be ironed out, European truck and bus makers are encouraged by some of the European Commission’s proposed revisions. The extra weight and length allowance for zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) is an important step in the right direction; however, this will only support the industry’s zero-emission transition if accompanied by increases in maximum axle loads.
Manufacturers welcome the proposed four-tonne increase to zero-emission vehicles’ maximum weight, on top of the current 40t limit authorised for HDVs. This will not only compensate for heavier zero-emission technologies such as batteries (and therefore heavier vehicles) but will allow for an extra payload, ie a truck can carry more cargo, as these technologies become lighter over time.
The Commission has also recognised several deficiencies in the existing W&D Directive, such as diverging rules for longer and heavier vehicles at the member-state level – which negatively impact transport efficiency. Harmonised rules across member states could alleviate current obstacles in cross-border transport for truck and bus manufacturers.
The co-legislators must now ensure that the W&D Directive is recognised as a key enabler of the transition to climate neutrality. Automakers now call on the Parliament and Council to not delay the W&D proposal and make swift progress in removing barriers that may hinder the market adoption of zero-emission trucks and buses.
CountEmissionsEU – not just a simple accounting exercise?
The Commission also published its proposal on greenhouse gas emissions accounting for transport services – the so-called CountEmissionsEU Regulation.
The European auto industry and its customers are already switching from conventionally powered vehicles to zero-emission models, and the CountEmissions rules have the potential to take this transition even further if implemented effectively.
Yet, the proposal may pose potential pitfalls for vehicle makers. ACEA has continuously raised the alarm on new EU rules contradicting or duplicating existing ones, and the CountEmissions proposal must not veer in the same direction.
Whether it is CO2 rules for heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs), the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD), EU battery regulations, LCA, and due diligence rules, requirements to measure emissions must align with other regulatory obligations.
As ACEA has also emphasised before, legislators must better account for freight and passenger transport’s differences. The co-legislators should ensure that the accounting framework sufficiently makes this distinction so that different characteristics, whether it is freight or passenger transport, are not sidelined.
Law makers must also recognise that counting emissions from transport and logistics is not a simple task. While an exemption for SMEs makes sense, the co-legislators must not underestimate the impact of additional costs and administrative burdens in undermining the sector’s net-zero transition.
The Weights and Dimensions Directive and the CountEmissions rules also come at a time where European manufacturers face increasing competitive pressures from abroad and mounting regulatory challenges at home. Both flagship initiatives of the Greening Freight Transport package have the potential to either accelerate or impede the industry’s net-zero transition. Much will depend on the ensuing negotiations, but safeguarding industrial competitiveness must guide these discussions.
Both the Weights and Dimensions Directive and the CountEmissions rules have the potential to either accelerate or impede the industry’s net-zero transition. Much will depend on the ensuing negotiations, but safeguarding industrial competitiveness must guide these discussions.