The European Commission has published proposals aimed at reducing vehicles’ carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2030.
The move is designed to put further pressure on manufacturers to develop more hybrid and electric cars.
The Commission also wants to introduce an incentive scheme to encourage companies to produce more zero and low-emission cars.
Under the proposals, cars will have to emit 15% less CO2 by 2025 compared with 2021 and 30% less by 2030.
“The proposed 30% reduction target for passenger cars is ambitious and realistic,” the Commission said.
Any changes would not apply to the UK if it was no longer in the European Union.
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Average CO2 emissions from light commercial vehicles registered in the EU in 2025 will have to be 15% lower and in 2030, 30% lower compared with 2021.
The Commission acknowledged that the technical changes need to achieve the new targets would mean higher production costs and that would, in the short term, lead to higher vehicle prices.
It calculated that for an average new car registered in 2030, the additional manufacturing costs would be about €1,000 (£883). For an average 2030 van, they would be up to about €900.
“However, these additional costs are significantly lower than the fuel savings from which consumers will benefit over a vehicle’s lifetime,” the Commission said.
“The net savings are up to around €600 for new cars bought in 2025 and up to about €1,500 in 2030. The user of a second-hand vehicle will benefit as much as the owner of a new car,” it added.
The Commission said the incentives for manufacturers to produce more alternative vehicles were designed to boost the EU’s competitiveness in the global car manufacturing market.
“The EU automotive industry risks losing its technological leadership in particular with respect to zero- and low-emission vehicles, with the US, Japan, South Korea and China moving ahead very quickly in this segment,” it said.
China had just introduced mandatory zero- and low-emission vehicle quotas for manufacturers from 2019, and some US states had had established a “regulatory instrument to enhance the uptake of zero- and low-emission vehicles”.
The incentives for manufacturers would make investors in zero- and low-emission vehicle technologies “more confident” and encourage charging infrastructure firms to “invest with less risk”.
The proposals would also see the Commission making up to €800m available to go towards improving charging infrastructure and €200m for battery development.
EU governments and the European Parliament will need to agree to the Commission’s proposals.