Winter is Coming: 4 Things to Watch in the Upcoming Months on E-mobility

The race for electric cars has officially started. China is leading for the moment, with investments booming up to around 20 billion euros in the past year, while the United States, led by California, and India are getting prepared for the same transition.

Where is the EU then? While market players are ready to bet on e-mobility, there is still uncertainty over the regulatory framework in the EU. In this regard, the approaching months will inevitably anticipate whether the EU will pave its way towards a real decarbonization of road transport. And more so, forthcoming developments on 4 policy issues are likely to define the trajectory the EU will take on e-mobility.

Emissions from cars and vans: Overcoming the Dieselgate

Over the past months the debate on e-mobility has been monopolized by the discussions on the Commission proposal on CO2 emissions standard for cars and vans. Emissions scandals in the last years have for sure not helped to drive a constructive debate among policy-makers, industry stakeholders and NGOs. This has resulted in awkward accusations on the presumed lack of ambition, rather than pointing out the benefits that new technologies could bring to the environment, competitiveness and innovation. While the draft report by the Socialist Maltese MEP Miriam Dalli is reasonably ambitious both in terms of emissions reduction and deployment of zero-emission vehicles, difficult negotiations have come with no surprise during the past months and will surely be visible during the upcoming vote on 10 September in the Environment Committee.

Meanwhile, the situation in the Council has been controversial, with the German government still lacking a position to present at the rest of the EU block. Pressured by emissions scandals, power politics and upcoming regional elections, will the country of Volkswagen commit to a substantial change? An answer might come at the next 9 October Environment Council meeting, when member states are expected to reach a common general approach on the dossier.  

Emissions from heavy-duty vehicles: Are you ready for e-trucks?

When it first came out of the Third Mobility package in May, nobody really understood what to expect, as never before the EU sought to regulate emissions from heavy-duty vehicles as well as the uptake of zero-emission trucks. However, EU policy-makers seem to enjoy a renewed fight on emissions alongside that on cars. And messages have remained the same: lack of ambition or of a realistic approach, lack of infrastructure, and so on. Indeed, realism is needed, especially for a sector that has a very specific role for businesses and requires long-term economic planning. Surely, the draft report from the Greens MEP Bas Eickhout, which will be voted upon in October, is extremely ambitious to pave the way to the deployment of e-trucks. Nevertheless, it looks more like a political statement from the Greens, rather than a constructive basis of discussion with other political groups. E-trucks might be – or not – the future of freight transport, and the upcoming negotiations will surely tell a lot on the direction the EU wants to take.

Energy Performance of Buildings: Requiring charging infrastructure in new buildings

One would wonder why a Directive on energy performance of buildings would be relevant for e-mobility. More so when such Directive entered into force in July. Let’s put things into perspective. The newly-adopted EPBD sets out for the first time e-mobility requirements for new buildings and building renovations. Therefore, an ambitious implementation at national level has the potential to have a strong impact on the uptake of e-mobility in Europe, by guaranteeing both consumers acceptance and accessibility to charging infrastructure. The upcoming months will be crucial as the Commission is looking into the publication of Guidelines, which will serve as a basis for a harmonized implementation of the Directive in Member States and will include a chapter on e-mobility. Stay tuned!

Alternative Fuels Infrastructure: Setting mandatory targets for Member States

Needless to say that, without binding targets, Member States have so far failed to deliver on the voluntary targets set out in the 2014 Alternative Fuels Infrastructure (AFI) Directive, resulting in a slower deployment of charging infrastructure. Pressured by stakeholders, the Transport Committee is set to vote an own-initiative report, drafted by the German Socialist Ismail Ertug on alternative fuels infrastructure, which might feed into the Commission’s work to revise the Directive with the inclusion of binding targets for Member States. Rumours say that a Commission proposal is in the pipeline and this might bring along provisions on roaming for charging infrastructure. While it is hard to imagine that this will be put forward very soon, considering the long list of dossiers DG MOVE is yet to finalize, it is likely that the Commission will brainstorm internally on the revision over the winter months, waiting for the next Commission to finally deliver on the dossier. Should the revision foresee binding targets for charging infrastructure, this would have the potential to be a game-changer for e-mobility.

 [1] Transport & Environment, ‘EU playing catch-up : China leading the race for electric car investments’, June 2018, https://www.transportenvironment.org/sites/te/files/EV%20investments%20paper%20FINAL_210618.pdf

Author

Simone Gobello

Consultant

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