Leif Johansson, chairman of ACEA’s Commercial Vehicle Board, has called for the legislative proposal for reducing CO2 emissions from LCVs, which was adopted by the EC in October 2009 and is subject to approval by the European Parliament this year, to be tailored to the commercial vehicle segment and to grant sufficient lead time to an industry battered by the recession and still taking the first steps to recovery.
Johansson said: “Our industry came down like a fall off a cliff in the financial crisis. It will take three to five years to get back.”
ACEA claims European vehicle manufacturers are striving to cut emissions further but need a legislative framework to support their efforts.
Johansson said the current proposal, to reduce emissions by more than 30% from 2007 levels to 135g/km by 2020, failed to take account of the particular features of the LCV market, in which the product is bought exclusively by commercial operators, whose businesses determine their buying criteria.
Johansson argued that for van operators “fuel efficiency is already key to purchasing decisions”, and accounted for a third of a vehicle’s costs. As a result, he said the industry offered a competitive, efficient product choice. But he added that where load-volume considerations and interior fitting were the dominant issues there was only limited scope to change the specifications that most determine fuel consumption.
For some businesses Johansson said: “It’s the bigger the better as far as payload goes. We need to remind regulators of that.”
He stressed a sufficient lead time was essential to enable manufacturers and operators to sustain investments and adapt vehicles at a reasonable time in their product cycle, and pointed out that LCVs have a longer development phase and product cycle than passenger cars.
ACEA called for an analysis of the EC proposal’s impact on the economy, employment and the environment, and also said a comprehensive package of incentives would help to ensure fleet renewal.
Johansson said European van makers were “cautiously optimistic” about prospects for the remainder of this year and 2011. “We will see better sales and earnings this year than in 2009,” he said. “The recovery in demand we saw in Asia and South America at the end of last year is now becoming more visible in Europe.”