EU emission regulations postpone the electric car revolution
EU (European Union) emission regulations are currently delaying the electric car revolution in Europe, I’ll show you why in this article. This is a subject that some EV enthusiasts are already aware of and I wanted to address before, but never had the patience to write it down in an article. No more excuses, today is the day to do it.
Let’s see some highlights of important EU emission policies for new passenger cars for the coming years.
Regulation (EC) No 443/2009
From 2021, phased in from 2020, the EU fleet-wide average emission target for new cars will be 95 g CO2/km.
This emission level corresponds to a fuel consumption of around 4.1 l/100 km of petrol or 3.6 l/100 km of diesel.
A phase-in period will also apply to the target of 95 g/km. In 2020, the emission targets will apply for each manufacturer’s 95% least emitting new cars. From 2021 on, the average emissions of all newly registered cars of a manufacturer will have to be below the target.
Penalty payments for excess emissions
From 2019 on, the penalty will be €95 for each g/km of target exceedance.
While the unrealistic and outdated test cycle NEDC is still used to measure CO2 emissions in these targets for 2020 and 2021, the policies seem very positive. Electric car sales will definitely grow exponentially in 2020 and even more in 2021, the electric car revolution is coming right?
Not so fast, let’s see what automakers are planing for 2020 regarding production of electric cars.
As you can see, most automakers only plan to produce the electric cars required to avoid EU fines, some will even prefer to pay those fines than actually sell enough electric cars. This happens for a simple reason, to game the regulation that sets the CO2 emission targets for 2025 and 2030.
Regulation (EU) 2019/631
New EU fleet-wide CO2 emission targets are set for the years 2025 and 2030, both for newly registered passenger cars and newly registered vans.
These targets are defined as a percentage reduction from the 2021 starting points:
- Cars: 15% reduction from 2025 on and 37.5% reduction from 2030 on
- Vans: 15% reduction from 2025 on and 31% reduction from 2030 on
The specific emission targets for manufacturers to comply with, are based on the EU fleet-wide targets, taking into account the average test mass of a manufacturer’s newly registered vehicles.
The new regulation sets the CO2 emission targets for 2025 and 2030 using the more realistic test cycle WLTP. However, the problem with this regulation is that the emission targets won’t be calculated in relation to the previous targets, instead they will be redefined by the emissions of CO2 of all new vehicles registered in 2021. Therefore, automakers aren’t interested in contributing to have a lower starting point in 2021 by selling more electric cars than they need to avoid fines.
Let’s see examples of some different scenarios.
If in 2021 the average CO2 emission from new registered passenger car is 105 g/km, it means that the target for 2025 will be 89,25 g/km and 65,625 g/km for 2030.
If in 2021 the average CO2 emission from new registered passenger car is 95 g/km, it means that the target for 2025 will be 80,75 g/km and 59,375 g/km for 2030.
However, if automakers sell a lot of electric cars in 2021, then the starting point will be lower and it will contribute for more demanding targets in 2025 and 2030, something that automakers don’t want.
Imagine if in 2021 thanks to electric car sales, the average CO2 emission from new passenger car registered is 85 g/km, it would mean that the target for 2025 would be 72,25 g/km and 53,125 g/km for 2030.
Summing up, because of how CO2 emission targets for 2025 and 2030 will be calculated, some legacy automakers will prefer to pay fines for a few years (2020 and 2021) than to risk reducing – more than they need to – the average CO2 emissions from new passenger cars in 2021. This means that in the coming years we’ll see the announcement of many new electric cars, but don’t expect availability to be great in EU countries, at least not until 2022.
For Spanish and Portuguese readers I highly recommend the following video, it’s spot on about legacy automakers behavior towards EU emission regulations.