AM Online

Transport White Paper 'hugely disappointing'

The recent EU white paper on future transport policy has been branded “a hugely disappointing document” by Ford of Europe CEO Stephen Odell.

He made his opinions clear as he gave the keynote speech at the 2011 SMMT International Auto-motive Summit in London.

He said the EU’s call for a 50% reduction in internal combustion-engined cars in urban areas by 2030 – and a complete ban by 2050 – didn’t properly address the issues of congestion and environmental improvement.

“It also effectively proposes to ban cars from out-of-city traffic altogether by suggesting such travel should be mainly made by train.

I find the proposals unrealistic and completely one-sided,” Odell added.

He also argued it would discourage essential R&D work in Europe and significantly reduce employment.

Odell called for a review of free trade agreements, such as the one between EU and South Korea.

He described it as a threat to the EU automotive industry as it risked locking-in the “one-sided flow of trade in vehicles between the European Union and Korea.”

He added: “One of that country’s leading manufacturers is stating it expects its sales to increase by 40% in Europe over the next few years.”

Odell said such growth in Korean product posed a significant challenge to the continent’s non-Korean car dealers.

Closer to home, Odell spoke of the threat posed by overcapacity.

This was leading some manufacturers to “reduce their vehicle prices to unrealistic levels to attract customers and keep their production facilities operating”.

Odell blamed short-termism from national governments, contrasting it with the “brutal reckoning” in the US that has created a leaner, more efficient and stronger car industry.

However, the rapid progress of the automotive industry in tackling environmental concerns was praised by Odell.

Reflecting trends across the industry, 35% of Ford’s total EU sales are now sub-120g/km.

“There has been a six-fold increase in sub-110g/km CO2 sales since the start of 2010. That’s the genius of the automotive industry.”

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