The European Parliament has confirmed tough light commercial vehicle emissions targets with big fines for those failing to meet them.
From 2014, all manufacturers must average CO2 emissions of no more than 175g/km, with fines of €5  per registration for being just 1g/km above that, rising to €140 per vehicle if they are 4g/km over, and then going up by €95 for every g/km after that. From 2019, the proposal is €95 for every g/km over 175.
The new target is being introduced gradually, with only 70% compliance required in 2014, rising by 5% per year for the next two years before complete compliance is required from 2017. The current average across the entire LCV parc is around 200g/km, according to European vehicle manufacturers’ association ACEA.
There’s another step-change planned in 2020, with the proposed 147g/km average, though that will be confirmed in a 2013 review.
The European Parliament has inserted incentives for manufacturers into its new rules, with the first 25,000 sub-50g/km vehicles counting as 3.5 units in 2014 and 2015, before dropping to 2.5 and 1.5 in the following two years as an incentive to get low-emission vehicles into the marketplace to lower the average. That will include electric vehicles like the Renault Kangoo ZE and Azure Ford Transit Connect Electric.
There is also scope within the regulations for future technology to gain ‘credits’, similar to those for sub-50g/km vehicles. Speed limiters are being investigated, for example, with the European Parliament wanting to be satisfied they save sufficient levels of CO2 before sanctioning incentives.
“The goalposts are now set and the automobile industry will do its utmost to meet these targets”, said Ivan Hodac, secretary general of ACEA. “However, especially the long-term objectives will be challenging. They will require the market introduction of breakthrough technologies that are far away from being a viable business option.”
“Industry is pleased the European Parliament has come to a decision on CO2 emissions targets for LCVs as vehicle manufacturers are committed to lowering emissions,” said Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders boss Paul Everitt.
“The task is pretty tough and will be challenging, but all manufacturers are aware they have to do their bit,” said the SMMT. “On the whole there is a feeling that these are the rules and we’ll work within them.”
But the SMMT did sound a warning as the European Parliament pushes the LCV industry down a path already being trodden by the car equivalents. “People may be pushed down the route of running smaller and smaller vans, to the point where you would need two to do the job of one larger one, and that’s not going to help the environment,” he said.
But some campaigners feel the new targets aren’t severe enough. “These standards will do little to curb the continuous rise in emissions from vans, even though the necessary technology is available and used in a number of models today,” said Greenpeace EU transport campaigner Franziska Achterberg. “The van sector needs to pull its weight if we are to steer clear of dangerous climate change. When these standards are reviewed in 2012, the EU should up the pace of progress to benefit the climate and consumers alike.”