European Parliament votes on Pan-European eCall, infrastructure and vehicle weights and dimensions

The European Parliament today voted on three dossiers that will have long-lasting implications for Europe’s automobile industry. These were on ecall, the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure and on the dimensions and weights of road vehicles circulating within the Community.

eCall

The European Parliament approved the agreement reached with the Council of Ministers and the Commission on the deployment of the necessary infrastructure for eCall (PSAPs).

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) welcomes the fact that member states will have to be ready with the infrastructure six months before it becomes mandatory in vehicles. ACEA calls on member states to implement the decision concurrently, so as to avoid an incoherently staggered approach that might undermine the usefulness of the system.

“This decision brings Europe one step closer to making operational a system which European automobile manufacturers have been advocating since 2004. European automobile manufacturers are committed to improving safety outcomes, and invest billions of euros every year to this effect” said Mr Erik Jonnaert, ACEA Secretary General.

Deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure

ACEA has long called for investment in, and harmonisation of, alternative fuel infrastructure across Europe. Infrastructure is a key part of the ‘integrated approach’ the industry has been advocating as necessary in order to cost-effectively meet certain targets established by the regulator for transport performance. Encouraging customers to purchase alternative vehicles requires that these prospective buyers are sure of their reasonable ability to recharge or refuel their cars, vans, trucks or buses wherever they are in Europe.

Mr Jonnaert said, “The package voted on today unfortunately removed binding targets for alternative infrastructure development. The automotive industry encourages policy makers to commit to action on infrastructure. For instance, electric vehicles, which the automobile industry has been encouraged to produce, require appropriate infrastructure to function. Only consistency in infrastructure investment will ensure wider transport policy goals can be met. The industry is dedicated to delivering sustainable mobility in Europe, and need policy makers to support this aim.”

Weights and dimensions of commercial vehicles

The revision of the Directive on the weights and dimensions of commercial vehicles has been a unique opportunity to provide the means to efficiently reduce emissions from heavy duty vehicles on Europe’s roads. Allowing an extension of the current maximum length of vehicles and vehicle combinations, while nonetheless complying with existing legal requirements, will permit the industry to incorporate both existing and future fuel-efficiency innovations into their designs. Today, MEPs finally voted on the dossier, but unfortunately did not make full use of the potential of the revision.

The inflexible approach that has been adopted towards aerodynamic and crash safety redesign does not accommodate the extremely long lead-time for the research and development required of the 15 year product lifecycle of a cab. Moreover, a narrow focus on ‘passive safety’ requirements neglects the ‘active safety’ technologies that are the future of commercial vehicle safety.

Mr Jonnaert said of the result, “ACEA has sought to bring solutions and positive suggestions to the debate on weights and dimensions. Industry believes that it ought to have the flexibility to make use of revised rules to deliver cleaner and more efficient trucks in the most cost-effective manner."

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