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"Alternative fuels necessary to meet the policy objectives" CARS 21 Interim Report

20 Dec 2011


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The CARS 21 HLG has published its Interim Report which gives first recommendations and key messages to better prepare tomorrow’s mobility. Environment, technology, jobs, competitiveness are discussed but the Group agrees that alternative fuels are necessary, not only because of upcoming oil scarcity, but also to meet policy objectives.

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CO2 emissions from road transport need to be greatly reduced, and action is needed TODAY.

Preparing tomorrow’s mobility solutions 

For the period up to 2020, the CARS 21 High-level Group (HLG) acknowledges that the dominant powertrain will continue to be the internal combustion engine (ICE). However, “alternative fuels will play a more prominent role in the decade to come,” and are “necessary to meet the policy objectives.”

After 2020, the substitution of oil with alternatives will be necessary. “Electric vehicles are expected beyond a niche market status with electric drive train evolution benefiting both electric and hydrogen/fuel cell vehicles. Moreover, batteries, hydrogen and fuel cell technology could play an important role for the storage of energy and efficient use of energy in vehicles.” 

Electric vehicles enable diversification of primary energy supply and substantial (around 30% at present) saving of CO2 emissions taking into account the current CO2 intensity of the EU electricity mix. 

Although charging of electric vehicles is expected to be performed mainly at home and work, the CARS 21 HLG acknowledges the need for publicly accessible recharging infrastructure. 

The CARS 21 HLG recommends making provisions in the future Horizon 2020 for research and innovation, to support a broad variety of Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) topics in the automotive sector and for mobility in general. 

Improving environmental & market performance 

To improve emissions measurement, and deliver real-life pollution reductions, the CARS 21 HLG concluded that there is a need for new test cycle and procedure, more representative of real-world driving for the CO2 emissions and other pollutants. 

Besides air quality, another issue for cities is noise pollution. The CARS 21 HLG also recommends using the new test protocol for measuring vehicle noise emissions. A further reduction of noise limits will be proposed, underpinned by an impact assessment. 

For “quiet” vehicles such as electric vehicles, the CARS 21 HLG recommends that installing sound generating devices should not be mandated but remain an option for the vehicle manufacturer. 

On the topic of incentives for clean and efficient vehicles, the CARS 21 HLG asks for clear EU guidelines, going beyond the strict legal requirements for incentives, aiming at limiting the fragmentation by providing reference design principles. 

“The CO2 figure from type-approval seems for light-duty the most appropriate measure of performance to be used for granting financial incentives. Although well-to-wheel performance is an important consideration for assessing the overall transport system, in order to avoid displacement of emissions, it is neither a convenient nor a suitable measure for the performance of the vehicle with respect to CO2 efficiency.” 

The vehicle industry at a crossroads 

The CARS 21 HLG has been re-launched in November 2010 to provide a “realistic vision for a competitive EU automotive industry and sustainable mobility and growth in 2020 and beyond”. This realistic vision will be written down as a set of operational recommendations to guide policy makers at both European and national levels. 

Since 2005, the CARS 21 HLG has acknowledged that investment in clean vehicle technologies are needed to ensure competitiveness in the medium term on the global market, and the re-launched HLG’s mandate includes the sustainable growth of the automotive industry. 

Next steps 

In order to develop the Interim Report, four Working Groups have been set-up on the following themes: 


  • Innovation, infrastructure energy supply and
  • Trade and international harmonisation
  • Industrial, social and territorial aspects of competitiveness
  • Internal market, emissions and CO2 policies

The Group will now enter the second round of discussions, with the aim of preparing the adoption of its Final Report by mid 2012. Several topics covered in the Interim Report will be revisited and deepened.

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