The European Commission has signalled its support for electric and hybrid cars as the technology that will green Europe’s transport systems, with a detailed policy statement that says little about biofuels.
The communication released by new EU industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani includes a shopping list of measures Brussels intends to take to promote electric and hybrid vehicles.
Many of these are actually policies and actions already in train, but there are some new initiatives unveiled.
Importantly, that includes a commitment by the Commission within the policy statement to “develop rules to avoid misleading environmental claims”, associated with the sale of supposedly green vehicles. Also, EU car labelling rules would be tightened up with an amendment to directive 1999/94/EC on this subject being drafted.
The statement gave clear priority to electric and hybrid vehicles: regarding biofuels, it restressed continuing work to develop new sustainability criteria, reducing the greenhouse gas impact of their production and use.
The Commission also confirmed that formal electric car safety requirements would be proposed this year. And it said related type-approval requirements should be reviewed by 2011.
This would include addressing a key vulnerability for electric vehicles – their safety in crashes: here technical rules would be reviewed by 2012, as would potential risks to pedestrians and cyclists because of the quietness of electric vehicles. And electric cars would be given a competitive edge by another planned proposal planned to be released by December 2011 – to actually tighten noise rules for all vehicles within directive 70/157/EEC.
A Commission communiqué said the policy package drew a line under the recent EU emergency support for the auto sector and reflected a consensus amongst EU member states “to move on from short-term recovery measures to a medium-term orientation that strengthens the competitiveness of the European automotive industry by linking it to clean technologies.”
Tajani said this was critical, adding: “In 2010, the automotive industry enters into a defining phase for its future success.”