In decades to come, Europe’s automobile industry will remain a driving force for innovation in order to usher in a new era of clean, safe and smart mobility. Already now, the European automotive sector invests over €44.7 billion each year to ensure new levels of transportation in the future. But given the fundamental nature of the challenges we face, these mobility issues simply cannot be addressed by industry alone – there is also a clear need for supportive public policies.
Policy makers are in a unique position to create a coherent and consistent policy framework that enables and accelerates the deployment of the latest vehicles. After looking into the challenges we face when it comes to increasing transport demand and the environment and after exploring the potential of future mobility solutions, this article makes 10 key policy recommendations.
1. Foster innovation
Bearing in mind that innovation is market driven, the industry needs the flexibility to drive it forward, with policies and regulations that encourage it. The automobile industry calls for support for dedicated automotive initiatives and research that further advances vehicle connectivity, environmental performance and safety.
2. Ensure technology-neutrality
Ensuring technological neutrality is essential to supporting innovation. Knowing that technological developments are by definition not completely predictable, European automobile manufacturers believe at this point that no technology options should be discarded, and that no ‘winners’ be prematurely selected. Policy related to new systems and alternative powertrains should therefore be results-oriented to ensure the uptake of the cleanest and safest vehicles.
3. Take a ‘consumer-focused’ perspective
Adopt mobility and transport policies that respond to changing consumer habits and needs.
4. Adopt a comprehensive approach to reducing emissions
This means not only focusing on reducing emissions from new vehicles, but also looking at all factors influencing emissions during the use of vehicles. Such a comprehensive approach can reduce emissions more effectively by drawing on a full spectrum of solutions, whether this relates to intelligent transport systems, improving infrastructure or altering driver behaviour (eco-driving).
5. Adopt an integrated approach to road safety
This means combining further improvements in vehicle technology with complementary intelligent transport systems, better road design and maintenance, improved driver training, and enforcement of traffic regulations.
6. Ensure a better coordination of climate and air quality policies
While significant progress has been made in reducing both CO2 and NOx emissions from vehicles, there is still a technical challenge for car manufacturers, as measures to reduce one often result in the increase of the other. Over past years, policy initiated by the EU institutions has focussed on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, resulting in the most stringent targets for CO2 emissions from cars and vans in the world. Looking forward, we need a coherent European policy framework in which ambitious climate change objectives are better reconciled with tougher air quality standards. The implementation of targets and testing methods should be streamlined.
7. Integrate all modes of transport in a complementary way
Given the increasing diversity of mobility needs, the principle of ‘co-modality’ should be at the heart of the future European transport policy. Different modes of transport each have different characteristics and should be seen as complementary and interconnected.
8. Adopt urban policies that improve traffic fluidity
Efficient mobility and transport is a fundamental requirement of cities. Policies should therefore aim at improving traffic fluidity, rather that restricting it.
9. Facilitate connected and automated driving
Europe needs to strengthen its communications networks. Concretely, we need to improve network coverage and reliability, and to provide the right infrastructure to process data for millions of cars. We need to adapt traffic rules. For instance, this means updating the Vienna convention, which still requires that a driver must be in control of the vehicle at all times. More and more national governments are offering industry the opportunity to test their latest vehicles and technologies, thereby supporting efforts to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance. However, it is vital this is done within a pan-European framework to establish the same rules in all member states. We need a system to enable secure access to data, which does not endanger the safety of vehicles and their users.
10. Encourage a move to the cleanest and safest vehicles
The average age of road vehicles in Europe has been increasing since 2000. For cars it is currently close to 10 years, for vans and heavy-duty vehicles it is over eight years, and for buses it is over nine years. Fleet renewal offers the most effective way to decrease road transport-related emissions and improve safety. As older vehicles are replaced with newer models, emissions from road transport will fall and safety will improve, especially as the latest connectivity and automation technologies enter the market. The automotive industry calls on policy makers to help accelerate fleet renewal and introduction of the cleanest, safest and smartest vehicles. This is particularly important as new vehicles (less than one-year old) only represent about 5% of the total current fleet.
This is the final article in a series on the Manifesto for Clean, Safe and Smart Mobility, which was launched on the occasion of ACEA’s 25th anniversary.
The Manifesto presents an overview of what progress has been made to date by Europe’s automobile industry. It also identifies where we stand today, by explaining the environmental challenges and rising demand for transport we face. Finally, the Manifesto provides a glimpse of what tomorrow will bring, by exploring the potential of future mobility solutions. This Manifesto also makes 10 key policy recommendations to ensure that the mobility of the future will reach new levels in terms of environmental performance, safety, as well as automation and connectivity.
Click here to discover ACEA’s Manifesto for Clean, Safe and Smart Mobility.