The European Parliament’s environment committee on Tuesday (7 May) called for the installation of electric speed limiters for vans to prevent their accelerating beyond an agreed 120kph cap. But MEPs rejected reducing the 2020 target for van CO2 emissions to 118g per km.
Capping van speed will encourage the supply of smaller engines and reduce average van fuel consumption and emissions by at least 6%, analysts say.
But the MEP leading the EU legislative’s amendments, Holger Krahmer, a German liberal, says the move interferes with the road traffic regulations of member states.
A number of EU countries have motorway speed limits which far exceed 120km/h. Germany has no speed limits on sections of its motorways but sets a recommended limit of 130km/h.
“Laws to reduce the fuel consumption of vehicles are not there to patronise the drivers. It is not the role of the EU to require owners of commercial vehicles that they can only drive up to 120 kilometres per hour and then to say it is a contribution to climate protection,” Krahmer said in a statement.
“Besides, this decision is an interference with road traffic regulations of the member states.”
Committee members called on the introduction of speed limiters to encourage the downsizing of van engines to reduce pollution and improve motorway safety. The proposal has seen some support in consumer polls.
The committee voted to reconfirm the 2020 van CO2 emissions target of 147g/km. But analysts say this is much weaker than the target for cars (95g/km), saying a true equivalent would stand at around 118g/km.
The campaign group Transport and Environment voiced its disappointment. “Regrettably, MEPs rejected tightening the current 147g CO2/km vans target for 2020 that has been widely regarded as much weaker than the equivalent target for cars," it said in a statement. "Recent research has shown the original 147g decision was based upon wrong information about how much CO2 vans were thought to emit and exaggerated costs of reducing this.”
In February, business organisations, including the European Small Business Alliance and the retail association EuroCommerce, wrote to Krahmer asking him to push for a strengthening of the 2020 target, saying 147g/km was “insufficient”.
But Krahmer was unwilling to make changes to the targets, set three years ago. “If we change targets too often, manufacturers do not have planning security.”
In what may be viewed as a compromise, MEPs voted in favour of a ballpark range of van emissions of 105 to 120g/km for 2025. Average van CO2 emissions went from 203g/km in 2010 to 179 in 2011.
MEPs also voted to update test procedures for measuring van carbon emissions, in a similar move to legislation on cars passed last week.
According to company figures, nearly one in five light commercial vehicles in Europe is a Volkswagen.