30 March 2020
The European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) has written to the European Commission, outlining the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the industry’s ability to comply with current and future EU laws and regulations.
‘We believe that some adjustment would need to be made to the timing of these laws, they wrote in their letter to Ursula von der Leyen, president of the Commission. ACEA went on to assure the Commission that it was not their intention to question the laws or their underlying objectives of climate-change mitigation, protection of the environment, or road safety.
But the letter has come under scrutiny, with some calling it an attempt to get CO2 targets relaxed. The clean transport campaign group Transport & Environment (T&E), took to Twitter, saying the priority now must be workers’ health and job security, ‘not opportunistic carmakers shamelessly trying to roll back EU climate targets.’
Calls by auto lobbyists to relax car CO2 targets, on the back of #COVID19, are currently unfounded@vonderleyen's priority must be workers' health, safety + job security, and not opportunistic carmakers shamelessly trying to roll back EU climate targetshttps://t.co/65fuSgHfyg— Transport & Environment (@transenv) March 27, 2020
‘It is too early to judge the impacts of the Coronavirus on the car industry but selling less cars won't impact compliance with the law. What matters is the type of car you sell,’ said Julia Poliscanova, clean vehicles and e-mobility director at T&E.
She added that zero-emissions cars should be the target of any incentives to boost demand once life returns to normal. ‘This will help keep jobs in Europe, curb pollution and boost the competitiveness of our car industry.’
Replying, ACEA called T&E’s claims on Twitter ‘misleading’, and that they made no explicit call for anything related to CO2 regulations or safety. They recommended people read the letter for themselves instead.
❌ Misleading, there simply is NO explicit call for anything related to CO2 or safety in the letter you are referring to.— ACEA (@ACEA_eu) March 27, 2020
✔️ Suggest that people read the actual letter, which can be found here: https://t.co/9GQSy6kpRA.
The pandemic has crushed consumer willingness and ability to invest in new vehicles, let alone footing the larger bill which comes that low-emission models. With oil prices continuing to fall and battery supply for electric vehicles (EVs) challenged by COVID-19, alternatively-powered paths are becoming harder and harder for manufacturers to follow. This increases the likelihood of more emissions and larger fines.
In an article earlier this month, Autovista Groups Daily Briefsenior data journalist Neil King examined how COVID-19 would impact EVs and emission fines. ‘In a protracted scenario, it seems inevitable that there will be higher CO2 emissions than if business had continued as usual in 2020,’ King explained.
‘Carmakers would face even higher fines unless manufacturers can lobby for a relaxation of the rules. Whether the EU would reduce the fines they impose on carmakers, as the cleanest cars could not be supplied, is not known,’ he added.
Now that ACEA and other lobbying groups from the industry have made their appeal, it is up to the Commission to decide how to support the industry in these dire times.