* Vans driven long distances, likely to be used more
* Commission position paper expected around year-end
By Barbara Lewis
BRUSSELS, Oct 4 The EU proposes less stringent
carbon dioxide emissions limits for vans than for cars and
making the van goals as tough would save fuel costs for
companies that own them, Dutch consultancy TNO said, adding to
criticism the bloc's policy is too timid.
The European Commission in July announced proposals for
binding 2020 carbon dioxide limits for cars and vans, which will
be debated by member states over coming months. It is also
expected to issue a policy document around the end of this year
to prepare for limits beyond 2020.
Some in industry, struggling against economic slowdown, have
complained that the proposed targets would be an extra burden.
But environmental campaigners say the cost of meeting
regulation has been exaggerated and the benefits of using less
fuel include lower costs, as well as lower emissions of
They are particularly concerned about vans, which they say
have a more lenient target than cars and are a growing source of
The Commission so far has a target of 147 grams per
kilometre (g/km) for vans and of 95 g/km for cars.
A report by TNO, commissioned by T&E, a transport and
environment campaign group, calculated the true equivalent of
the car target for van manufacturers - requiring them to make
the same effort as car makers and taking account of extra weight
- was 118 g/km.
It found the tougher target would almost double savings from
440 euros to 825 euros ($1,100). Equally, that would double
carbon dioxide reductions to an additional 2.7 million tonnes
per year of CO2, as emissions are directly linked to fuel use.
Technology improvements would add 2,000 euros to the
purchase price of a van, it said, but the reduced fuel bills
would mean the extra purchasing cost would be recovered in less
than 3 years, assuming a conservative crude oil price of $95 per
barrel, compared with well over $100 for Brent now.
T&E programme manager Greg Archer said the 147 g/km target
means that vans "could become a technology graveyard" when they
should be making use of solutions to improve fuel efficiency,
such as streamlining, that have already been developed for cars.
"There is no reason standards for vans should be softer than
those for cars," he said.
Jean-Marc Gales CEO of CLEPA, the European Association of
Automotive Suppliers, which is involved in consultations with
the European Commission, said the existing targets struck the
right balance between cost and emissions cuts for now.
But looking beyond 2020, Gales - who ran the commercial
vehicles division of GM Europe in 2004 and 2005 - said
vans needed particular attention.
"We're going to take a much closer look at vans," Gales told
Reuters. "I'm absolutely determined for 2025/2030, we will have
a much closer look at the van targets."
Although vans make up only a small percentage of EU new
registrations (roughly 12 percent), they are driven much greater
distances than cars -- sometimes up to 100,000 km per year,
compared with 10,000-12,000 km for the average car, Gales said.
They also have a longer life and are likely to be
increasingly popular because they are cheaper than trucks.