29 Feb 24

Why the leasing sector should support an EU law on fleets: "If you're not at the table you're on the menu"

Why the leasing sector should support an EU law on fleets

Stef Cornelis, Director of Electric Fleets, at Transport & Environment 

In the past weeks, the fleet sector has become the talk of the town in Brussels. Earlier this month the European Commission launched a public consultation on greening corporate fleets.

This is the first step towards a possible EU legislation setting EV targets for companies cars and the leasing sector.  

The European Commission did the right thing by coming forward with this initiative. If the EU wants to meet its climate targets and do this in a socially fair way, the corporate sector should drive the transition to EVs. Not only are company cars the biggest market, they also enjoy huge tax benefits. 

Unfair and Contradictory

But this is currently not the case. In the EU, corporate cars are falling behind private households in terms of EV uptake. The leasing sector – dominated by a handful of very profitable companies – is not outpacing the market either. At the same time leasing companies refuse to set any targets to phase out fossil cars. The fact that the biggest - and wealthiest - players are not taking their responsibility isn’t fair and contradictory to the EU’s aim for a Green Deal that is socially just.  

So how is the leasing sector reacting to the developments in Brussels? In its recent position paper, Leaseurope is shooting down this initiative and rejecting any mandatory targets. According to the association it could have “unintended consequences”, and even be “counterproductive towards the European Union’s goals on reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions”. 

This conservative attitude is disappointing and - not for the first time - contradictory to their public claims. In their communications, the leasing sector and large companies such as Ayvens, Arval or Volkswagen Financial Services leave no opportunity unused to profess that they are the green leaders of the corporate cars world. 

Let's be EV supportive

If they are really serious about this, they should openly support targets for the corporate sector. Electrification targets for both the leasing sector and their biggest clients will provide a clear pathway, guaranteed demand and investment certainty towards 100% electric. Of course targets need to be designed in a smart way, but it is not an excuse for the leasing world to already shoot down this initiative from the early start.  

Their defensive reaction only strengthens the image of a sector that doesn’t want to move and actually provides Brussels lawmakers with another argument why EU targets are necessary. If leasing continues to block any ambitious climate legislation also governments should start to wonder if they want to continue to subsidise a sector that does not want to commit. 

In other words, the industry would benefit from a change of course towards a more constructive and propositional attitude. As EU law making takes a long time, there is still an opportunity to shape the law positively for them.

As they say, if you’re not sitting at the table, you’re on the menu.