On 17 May, the European Commission presented a new Mobility Package entitled ‘Sustainable Mobility for Europe’ with which it seeks to promote safe, connected and clean mobility across the EU. This third and last Mobility Package by the Juncker Commission contains various legislative and non-legislative proposals that will affect the EU automobile industry.
Given that the package covers a wide range of topics – counting dozens of documents and hundreds of pages – it will of course take some time to assess the full details of these proposals. Nevertheless, there are some takeaways in three key areas that I would already like to share with you at this point.
First of all, there is connected and automated driving – a domain in which safe and secure access to vehicle data deserves special attention. Secondly, a proposal for the EU’s first-ever CO2 standards for trucks was unveiled. And finally, the Commission also outlined its road safety policy framework for the 2020-2030 period.
Let’s start with connected and automated driving. In its new Communication ‘On the Road to Automated Mobility’, the Commission has set out its future ambitions. During the next decade, it expects to see the introduction of automated driving on Europe’s motorways. Truck platooning, for instance, which the European Commission wants to facilitate by standardising data exchange between different truck brands.
Our industry has been actively working on the development and introduction of platooning technology over the past years and welcomes the attention given to it in the Communication. In this respect, we are looking forward to seeing the remaining regulatory barriers to the EU-wide deployment of truck platooning being removed in the near future.
Looking further ahead, the European Commission even envisages a move towards fully autonomous mobility by the 2030s. In the short term, however, the EU’s executive arm wants all new vehicles to be connected to the internet by the year 2022. Already now, our vehicles are becoming increasingly more ‘connected’. These new levels of connectivity obviously present major opportunities, but opportunity comes with risks, and one of these is the threat of a cyberattack on your vehicle or even a whole fleet.
Hence, we were pleased to see that the Commission gave priority to ensuring safe and secure access to vehicle data in the Mobility Package. ACEA agrees with the Commission that the right approach to data access must ensure “safety and cybersecurity, in full compliance with the […] protection of personal data.” Our industry is convinced that this can only be achieved if relevant vehicle data are communicated to an off-board facility, from where service providers can access the data.
The safety of drivers and passengers is paramount to us. That is why we need to use this secure off-board model for data sharing. This approach minimises safety and security risks in a way which no other method of access to vehicle data can accomplish. By contrast, giving third parties direct and uncontrolled access to data in a moving vehicle is an open door for hackers. Because, let’s be frank here, how well would you sleep at night with your front door wide open?
The second key element of the Mobility Package is the proposal on the first-ever EU standards for CO2 emissions from heavy-duty vehicles. These standards are one important part of a broader strategy to further decarbonise road transport – an objective to which our industry is fully committed. To put things into context, all transport modes together are responsible for roughly 25% of EU CO2 emissions. Heavy-duty vehicles account for one-fifth of this, but trucks also carry more than 70% of all land-based freight!
Now, as for the proposal, ACEA welcomes the two-step approach that the Commission has put forward, with targets set for 2025 and 2030. The truck industry also supports the idea to validate the indicative 2030 CO2 target in the year 2022, as this would allow the latest fuel efficiency technologies to be taken into account. Nevertheless, we believe that the reduction levels proposed by the Commission for 2025 and 2030 – 15% and 30% respectively – are far too aggressive, and have not been selected with the specific nature of the truck market in mind.
It would seem as though the Commission has simply taken the exact CO2 reduction levels it already proposed for cars and vans back in November 2017, and applied them directly to heavy-duty vehicles, without fully recognising the fundamental differences between these vehicle types. Moreover, the fact that the 15% reduction by 2025 is followed by another 15% by 2030 goes against a realistic technology ramp-up, as the most advanced fuel-saving technologies will take time to develop.
The bottom line here is that ACEA accepts the introduction of CO2 standards for trucks, but calls for them to be carefully and properly designed, bearing in mind the complexity of the market. After all, most trucks are custom-built to meet specific requirements. Trucks literally come in thousands of different shapes and sizes, they are simply not ‘big cars’.
Finally, the third major pillar of this last Mobility Package is the ‘Strategic Action Plan on Road Safety’, the main objective of which is to reduce road traffic fatalities and serious injuries by half between 2020 and 2030. If we are to make progress on this we need to put more emphasis on an integrated safety strategy. In other words, we need to ensure that safe vehicles are driven by safe drivers on safe roads. Indeed, vehicle technology is one piece of this complex safety puzzle.
Hence, the EU automobile industry supports a wide array of the vehicle safety measures that were proposed by Commission earlier this month. These include autonomous emergency braking (AEB) systems, which start braking automatically if a collision is imminent and the driver is not taking any action, and lane departure warning (LDW) systems, which warn the driver if he leaves a marked lane without using his indicator.
At the same time, however, I would like to stress that some of the proposed measures will require further review to ensure a focus on the most effective solutions with the strongest positive outcome. When considering different technologies with an effect on the same type of accidents, for instance, ACEA calls for synergies to be factored in to avoid solving the same problem twice.
These are only three elements of the third Mobility Package – there is, of course, much more to it. Other issues include the Commission’s Communication on reducing air pollution, the safety performance of road infrastructure (indeed, one of the other pieces of the complex safety puzzle), as well as the so-called ‘Action Plan on Batteries’ – related to the European Battery Alliance that was launched by Maroš Šefčovič last year.
So rest assured, you will hear more from ACEA on these other important topics in weeks and months to come! From my side, I just want to conclude by emphasising that Europe’s automobile manufacturers look forward to working with the EU institutions to ensure a proper implementation of this agenda that will reshape the future of mobility in Europe.
Secretary General of ACEA