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Politicians ‘playing with rules’ for vehicle CO2 emissions targets, guest opinion

Simon Bailes, chief executive, Simon Bailes Peugeot Ltd

The European Automobile Manufacturer’s Association (ACEA) is right to feel let down by the final 2030 CO2 emissions deal proposed by the EU member states, Commission and the European Parliament.

Politicians are playing with rules that affect costs and investments, which could be detrimental to our industry, without putting their money where their mouth is.

They can tell us that things need to change but they are doing nothing to support us with unrealistic targets.

Erik Jonnaert, ACEA Secretary General, target ‘is driven purely by political motives, without taking technological and socio-economic realities into account’ and I am inclined to agree with him.

Our industry is, of course, mindful of the effects that the current CO2 levels are having on the environment, and no one is in dispute about the fact that things need to change.

However, the delivery of such measures to reduce emissions must be flawless, when the decline of the motor retail sector and jobs are at stake.

As it stands, the European Parliament hopes to enforce a 37.5% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030. While this may appear at first glance entirely possible, there is much to consider, and the UK’s own target to end the sale of conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040 seems much more feasible.

How can we expect all of the member states to fulfil these targets when there are so many things to consider, should we not be taking the advice of our own Parliament, which knows our industry and its capabilities?

For instance, we need a much stronger, adept infrastructure to support the increase in vehicles that the CO2 regulations would require.

According to the Institute of Motor Industry, there are only 18,000 charging points at 6,500 locations across the UK, not enough to cater for the 150,000 vehicles on the road today.

In addition to infrastructure, there needs to be a much wider portfolio of models, readily available from manufacturers. With significant hurdles standing in the way of development, some brands have yet to release a fully-formed electric model on the market, and customer choice, opinion and affordability are vital factors to consider.

Enforcing CO2 targets too early and too quickly could actually hamper the affordability of vehicles and the mobility of millions of people.

For families with a lesser income, the changes in targets could result in no longer being able to afford a vehicle, or not being able to replace their car or van when necessary.

Most importantly, drastic measures which directly affect our sector can endanger jobs, and with 13.3 million people working in the EU automobile industry, failure is not an option.

The EP is paying lip service to reducing CO2 targets, those of us working in the sector are focused on the reality.

Author: Simon Bailes, chief executive, Simon Bailes Peugeot Ltd


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