E-Mobility and Europe: What does the future hold?

Over the last years, cities and governments of the European Union (EU) have introduced measures to promote and support e-mobility. Unfortunately, there is yet no European control room capable of directing the galaxy of disconnected initiatives to properly improve the well-being of citizens and promote the growth of a new high-tech industrial segment.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?    There are almost 1 billion motor vehicles in the world. A number that is expected to double by 2030 with a foreseen significant hike also on CO2 emissions. The expansion of electric mobility will not only improve the quality of life of our cities, but it could also be a driver for the sustainable development of the European automotive industry.

REDUCE CO2 EMISSIONS   CO2 emissions in the transport sector are responsible for over 25% of the European total. It must be highlighted that no significant decline on CO2 emissions has occurred; still, 400,000 individuals die prematurely every year.

THE ENERGY TRANSITION TALKS CHINESE    The comparison with other international realities is embarrassing. There are approximately 1,600 electric buses driving on European roads, compared to 16,000 of the city of Shenzhen. China alone manages a total of 400,000 electric buses (source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance). The industrial sector connected to this business is experiencing a real explosion: going from 1,672 vehicles sold in 2013 to 89,546 in 2017.

LET’S NOT WASTE TIME    The future of the European electric mobility industry will be set up and managed at an intra-national level in the upcoming months. Postponing the transition to electric vehicles would only help international competitors to become even more dominant. The majority of European public transport vehicle fleets uses fossil fuels. Vehicles that will likely stay on our roads for the next 5-10 years (in Rome the average age of a bus exceeds 8 years, in Paris 7 years), further contributing to CO2 emissions, air and noise pollution.

EUROPEAN STRATEGY    A defined strategy with set sustainable economic and environmental objectives is of utmost importance in order to achieve significant improvements  in the reduction of CO2 emissions, ameliorate overall air quality and boost the competitiveness of European industries in the production of electric vehicles.  Actions taken by individual isolated realities will likely not be enough.

However, the most incisive initiatives should be directed towards the revision of the European Clean Vehicle Directive (CVD) – expected in the first half of 2019. To date, CVD has achieved modest results:

  • insufficient market shares of electric vehicles purchased in public procurement;
  • ineffectiveness of the monetization methodology applied in the directive.

NEW RULES    The new directive should start from these three key principles:

  • Reformulate the minimum amount of clean vehicles  imposed on public authorities. The variable quota – to be reached by 2030 – is between 25% and 50% for cars and 43-75% for public transport. If the ceiling of the quota appears to be optimal, the likelihood that member countries will try to reach only the floor of the quota is infinitely higher. Hence, it is urgent to eliminate (or increase) the floor of the quota to accelerate the energy transition;
  • Extend the obligation of zero-emission vehicles to taxi companies and rental cars is a necessary step to increase the chances of reaching the targets of the European directive. By following the best practices already implemented in some cities around the continent, the directive should encourage the usage of zero-emission taxis by offering licenses only for electric vehicles or by providing financial assistance to taxi drivers interested to transit from fossil fuel vehicles to electric ones.
  • Establish a regulatory framework able to stimulate the industry demand (i.e increase of public tenders that foresee high quotas of electric vehicles) acting as an anticipator of market trends.

Given the low public mobility offer, the European Union must act as a driver in the market and direct its investments towards e-mobility. The aim is twofold: improve the well-being of citizens and promote new opportunities for the transport industry.

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