2 jan 24

EU could force fleets to go electric by 2030 – but will it?

Should the EU force corporate fleets to go electric by 2030? The Platform for Electromobility thinks so. But the EU Commission seems less keen. In an open letter, the Platform reminded the Commission of its promise to launch a public consultation on the matter – before year’s end. 

With Christmas a mere three weeks away, the chances of that happening look pretty slim. Could it be that the Commission is dragging its feet? There is some evidence for that.

Greening Corporate Fleets

Corporate fleets, everybody agrees, can be a vector for change in the wider automotive market – especially when it comes to electrification. 

That’s why the EU Commission included in its work programme for 2023 the ambition to craft a proposal specifically for greening corporate fleets: the plan was to formulate either a general policy proposal, or a specific legislative proposal. 

However, as the year progressed, neither option materialized. Instead, the topic ‘Greening Corporate Fleets’ was watered down: “By the end of the year, the Commission will launch a public consultation in preparation for future action to accelerate the electrification of corporate fleets by 2030."

Open letter

In mid-October, with little or no movement noted on that front either, the Platform for Electromobility penned an open letter to prod the Commission into action. 

The Platform, which promotes electromobility at EU and national level, has more than 40 members, including OEMs (Renault, Ford, Volvo, Tesla), advocacy groups (Transport & Environment, EV100), associations (EuroCities, WindEurope, AVERE) and suppliers along the electromobility value chain (EVBox, ChargePoint, Enel).

The letter was addressed to the three members of the Commission with relevant competences: Maroš Šefčovič (EU Commission Executive Vice President for the European Green Deal; pictured left), Wopke Hoekstra (EU Commissioner for Climate Action; pictured centre), and Adina Vălean, (EU Commissioner for Transport; pictured right). 

In the document, the Platform reiterated the important role of corporate fleets in the switch to EVs:

  • Company cars make up a 60% of EU car sales.
  • A company car does twice the mileage of a private car.
  • Defleeted company cars have a major impact on the used car market, which is where 8 out of 10 Europeans buy their cars.

Accelerating electrification

The EU aims to reach net-zero emissions from transport by 2040. To get there, electrification needs to accelerate. Corporate fleets are well positioned to lead, the open letter argues, as many are already committed to transitioning to zero-emission fleets (including EV100 members, by 2030). Making the change obligatory for all will level the playing field, and generate two big positives:

  • It will significantly reduce emissions from transport – an important part of the EU’s wider climate goals. 
  • And it will give the market wider access to cheap used EVs. 

The Platform for Electromobility reiterates its support for an idea floated earlier by the Commission: binding zero-emission purchase targets for corporate car fleets. The suggested figures: 65% in 2027 and 95% in 2030. With regard to the public consultation promised by the Commission, the Platform suggests on the one hand to limit its scope, and to focus on legislative options for the latter goal (95% by 2030); and on the other hand to widen the scope to include LCVs as well. And finally, with the non-movement to date in mind, to develop a timeline for the swift adoption of the mandate. 

Binding targets

It's not the first time this year the Commission has been urged to set binding targets for corporate fleets by 2030. In May, Transport & Environment said that mandating targets for all new corporate cars to be 100% zero emission by 2030 would add 11 million extra EVs to Europe’s roads and save an additional 30 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent for the year 2030.

Will the Commission finally leverage the pioneering role of corporate fleets to give the decarbonization of transport in Europe a much-needed boost? Of will delays and inaction add up to so much lost time that there really isn’t much point to have a separate EU mandate for corporate fleets in addition to the general prohibition on selling new combustion-engine vehicles from 2035? 

The answer to that question will – probably – become clearer in the new year. 

Images: European Commission / Shutterstock 1310120251

Authored by: Frank Jacobs