3 min read

Promises, but no plans | VW and Volvo are leading the legacy

Insights from T&E's new report: How the EU can make or break the transition to zero emission cars

I love it when Transport & Environment drops one of its truthbombs.

Here's the 84-page report: (pdf).

So, what do we see here?

The T&E is pretty pessimistic.

Legacy carmakers enjoy showing off their green credentials, but most of them lack a robust plan to get to their phase-out targets or miss them altogether. BMW, Daimler, and Toyota seem to be overly reliant on hybrids.

Per the 'readiness index' above, T&E puts Volvo and VW on the "70" point scale ahead of other automakers. While Volvo committed to becoming a fully electric car company by 2030, VW is most advanced in the industrial transition (e.g. batteries and dedicated BEV platforms) despite a more modest BEV sales target of 60% for the group in 2030.


  • 7.4% or 1 million units of overall EU car production will be EVs in 2021, 24.2% or 3.3M units in 2025 and, passing the ICE in 2030 with 6.7M (50.2%) Vehicles.
  • PHEVs are expected to peak in 2026 with 1.6M units (12%) per year.

T&E recommends the EU policymakers to set:

  • A higher 2025 standard of -25% and an additional target of at least -40% in 2027 are needed to make electric cars affordable, and the EU car industry globally competitive.
  • A 2030 target of at least -65%, followed by a complete phase-out of combustion engine vehicles in 2035.
  • No multipliers or credits for current PHEV models, whose CO2 values should be adjusted based on their real-world emissions.
  • No fuels credits and tightening of existing regulatory loopholes such as mass adjustment.

Julia Poliscanova from T&E concludes their research:

There is no longer any doubt that a fossil fuel free, all electric future is possible. But with only two carmakers close to where Europe needs to go, policymakers can’t leave it to carmakers to get there on their own. Targets need to be gradually tightened so that carmakers not only commit to phasing out fossil fuels, but develop a strategy that gets them there on time.

Here's my rant about this (feel free to skip):

I'm not a big fan of the '"et's set up a lot of rules and policies and then things will happen" approach. I haven't got much trust in the system, as these kinds of whip-policies often lead to major inefficiencies and quite frankly, waste.

I feel there could be more to be done with:
a) funds, not policies, directed to R&D to make the EVs cheaper and charging infrastructure better. Normally I wouldn't say 'funds' either, but as the fossil industry is so heavily subsidized, I'm okay with playing fields being leveled.
b) educating people on the benefits of driving EV and helping them along the way.
c) help the 'demand' side, not the 'supply' side. Help the city fleets go electric, which in turn creates demand, rather than forcing bus makers to make electric buses.

If you agree/disagree with anything above, I'd love to discuss this topic further!

And to end my rant: I do appreciate this research by T&E (pdf). They've done a great job mapping if, how, and when are automakers executing their plans.

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