Leaders of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) call on EU policy makers and national governments to step up support to the auto sector, which continues to grapple with the fallout of COVID-19 while already at a critical juncture on the road to carbon neutrality.
Indeed, the corona crisis has rocked the EU auto industry, leading to production losses of more than 4 million motor vehicles to date (worth some €122 billion). Registrations of all vehicle types have plummeted over the first three quarters of the year, with car sales forecast to drop by a historic 25% in 2020.
Speaking at an online conference on October 20, ACEA President and CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Michael Manley said, “The COVID pandemic is clearly the biggest single risk ever to face the auto industry. It is adding massive pressures on our sector at a time when it is navigating fundamental technological shifts, as well as the prospect of a no-deal Brexit. We urgently need to find ways to pull through this with minimum damage to jobs and investments, while at the same time keeping strong focus on the climate challenge.
“The European Commission’s recently-proposed 2030 Climate Plan will require massive additional investments from our side at this difficult time,” Manley continued. “However, our investments alone will never be enough. If we want zero-emission mobility to become a real option for all Europeans, we also need a vast network of charging points and re-fuelling stations right across the EU, coupled with economically-sustainable incentives.”
ACEA is therefore calling for support from national COVID recovery plans to be channeled into these areas, stimulating demand for alternatively-powered cars, vans, trucks and buses. This will bolster Europe’s economic recovery as well as its climate ambitions.
Henrik Henriksson, CEO of Scania and Chairman of ACEA’s Commercial Vehicle Board added, “Our industry is fully committed to carbon-neutral road freight transport by 2050 at the latest. This will bring radical change for the commercial vehicle industry, as well as the entire value chain in transport and logistics. We are ready to lead this transformation.
“Manufacturers have been investing in significant numbers of zero-emission trucks that will hit the market over the next few years. What we need member states to do now is to match our level of commitment by rolling out a network of truck-suitable charging stations,” urged Henriksson. “Backed by a fully coherent policy framework, making low- and zero-emission trucks the better option for transport operators, we can make this a success and turn the monumental challenges we are facing today into new opportunities.”
Also speaking at ACEA’s event were Peter Altmaier, German Minister for Economic Affairs; Diederik Samsom, Head of European Commissioner Timmermans’ Cabinet; and Colin Couchman of IHS Markit Automotive.