ECONOMIC RECOVERY AMONG UPS AND DOWNS
The EU emission package the real unknown factor looming over a recovering automotive market.
The recent EU mobility package will have a major impact on the future of the European automotive industry, being the first step on a long path towards a drastic emission reduction. However, the recent market recovery deserves a special mention, offsetting the negative results that plagued the industry during the months of July and August 2017, affected by a double-digit sales drop. "These figures – according to Michele Crisci, president of Unrae – are a clear demonstration of the effectiveness of the measures taken and the need for further steps on behalf of the sector, which we consider necessary for the truck market too, allowing owners to take advantage of the 140% deduction scheme: but it is also essential that these measures are made structural if the currently aged National fleet, of which a third dates back to last century, is to be renewed with Euro 6 vehicles.”
In fact, according to the data processed and distributed by Unrae’s Study and Statistics Centre – Unrae being the Association of Foreign Car Manufacturers - after a negative summer, the trucks market in September achieved result substantially in line with last year’s, with 16,300 units sold, - 0.7% compared to September 2016 with 16.416 vehicles sold.
Also the aggregate figures for the first nine months of 2017 are in line with last year’s figures, with 130,706 units sold compared to 130,678 units in January-September 2016. Furthermore, additional studies by Unrae on the relationship between registrations and sales channel clearly shows that the greatest boost to sales comes from dealers self-registrations, a fundamental impulse compared to what was recorded last year.
And now back to the EU mobility package; automotive experts maintain that future CO2 reduction targets must be both ambitious and feasible, without neglecting possible consequences for the many employees currently working in the automotive supply chain, which involves 12,6 million people throughout Europe, 1.16 million of which in Italy alone.
The European Commission has, in fact, launched a second mobility package, which sets new targets for reducing passenger cars and light commercial vehicles CO2 emissions after 2021. The proposal met with Anfia’s approval which admitted in a statement "to welcome the fact that these new objectives are linked to the 2030 deadline, being consistent with the timing already established by EU Heads of State on the 2030 Climate and Energy Agreement. However, the introduction of an additional target set for 2025 – only a few years after the 2021 target - does not give the industry sufficient time for the technical upgrades required for both cars and light commercial vehicles, which have longer development and production cycles."
The 30% emission reduction target proposed by the Commission appears to be too heavy, going beyond the level determined in the Climate and Energy Agreement as well as the impact assessment performed in 2016, which specifies what needs to be done to fulfil the targets set by the COP21, the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference. In line with this, the Italian automotive supply chain considers a 20% reduction target for cars to be attainable, and the costs acceptable though high.
It is clear that CO2 reduction targets can boost innovation and the industry’s technological edge, but the current proposal does not take due account of the low and fragmented penetration of alternative and advanced vehicles into the European market. In fact, achieving the 2030 target depends much on the commercial success and market penetration of alternative vehicles. Greater investments in infrastructure dedicated to charging and refuelling these vehicles are a necessary condition if EU consumers are to shift their choices on this type of vehicles.