Cleaner vehicles

The European Commission has proposed new legislation that would help create a market for “clean” vehicles.

The proposal would require public bodies to earmark a quarter of their annual procurement funds specifically to purchase such vehicles, providing manufacturers with a stable market for their products.

“The growing problems caused by pollution in towns and cities and the steady increase in the price of oil make it necessary to help the motor industry to produce less-polluting vehicles”, stated Commission Vice-President Jacques Barrot, the Transport Commissioner.

In the EU, road transport accounts for about one quarter of the total energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Hence, the potential for reducing vehicle emissions and making energy savings is substantial. However, the technologies needed to build clean vehicles remain expensive.

Hence the Directive would require public bodies to allocate a minimum quota of 25% of their annual procurement (purchasing or leasing) of heavy-duty vehicles (with a weight greater than 3.5 tonnes) to “enhanced environmentally friendly vehicles” as defined in the European Performance Standard (EEV). Heavy-duty vehicles include buses and most utility vehicles, such as refuse collection lorries.

At a later date, the Commission will examine whether the quota should be extended to include other types of vehicles.

The Commission proposal will now be forwarded to the European Council and the European Parliament.