17 Sep 20

Belgian government plans to ban non-electric company cars by 2026

The next Belgian government is considering to ban non-emission free company cars. For a country with a share of company cars as high as Belgium's, that’s a big deal. There’s a caveat: there’s no coalition agreement yet.

If the seven parties that are in talks to form a new government (see below for the backstory) reach an agreement, they will ban ICE company cars by 2026, only allowing battery-electric vehicles instead. Plug-in hybrids would also be banned. The ban would only apply to new cars and cars already on the road would not be affected.

Many feel 2026 is too early for such a ban. In a joint reaction, the country’s federation of car manufacturers (Febiac), the federation of the leasing and rental companies (Renta) and the federation of the vehicle repair industry (Traxio) state they support a greener fleet but they emphasise the responsibility the authorities have in the matter.

2% of CO2 emissions

“Today, 600,000 of the 6 million cars on Belgian roads are company cars,” said Joost Kaesemans, Febiac spokesperson. “They cover about 20% of all kilometres driven but they are more environmentally friendly than the average. According to our analysis, they emit less than 2% of all CO2 emissions in the country. So let’s not overestimate the impact this measure can have.”

He also points out the number of kilometres driven has gone down since the coronavirus hit the country and working from home became more widespread.

Filip Ryant, Traxio, added: “It would be better if plug-in hybrids could be a part of this green project.”

Too expensive to electrify

Frank Van Gool, Director General of Belgian vehicle leasing and rental association Renta, said: “This proposal could make it too expensive for company and company car users to continue driving ICE vehicles. At the same time, insufficient charging infrastructure and a limited range of EVs on the market could motivate companies and people to go on driving their old ICE vehicles. That won’t help the environment.”

Mr Van Gool invites the coalition parties to engage in talks to find a constructive path for the future.

World record

Short backstory. Belgium broke the government formation world record in 2011, when the Di Rupo government took office after 541 days of talks. The stability that ensued was short-lived, as the next prime minister, Charles Michel, was forced to resign in December 2018, following disagreement within his coalition on the Global Compact for Migration.

The outgoing government was reshuffled various times and at one point the outgoing prime minister was replaced by Sophie Wilmès, who had the extraordinary privilege of being sworn in by King Philippe and immediately becoming outgoing as well. Elections were held in May 2019 and as is usual in Belgium, no single party had a majority in parliament. Various parties started talks, no agreement was reached.

When the coronavirus hit the country, the outgoing Wilmès government was temporarily reinstated as a fully functioning government, giving it the required powers to tackle this health crisis. By September 2020, however, parliament would withdraw its support of this full government and it would go back to being outgoing.

Coalition talks were resumed in the summer. Today, there appears to be a glimmer of hope, as the liberal, socialist and green parties (two of each, one for the Dutch-speaking Flemish, the other for the French-speaking part of the country) together with the Flemish Christian-Democratic party, are at the verge of a deal.

Image copyright: Shutterstock

Authored by: Benjamin Uyttebroeck