Brussels, Belgium - Credit: Pixaby

Brussels, Belgium

Credit: Pixaby

Fleet operational requirements across Europe are becoming more complex, following the announcement by the Brussels Regional Government to ban diesel engines by 2030, ban petrol, hybrid and gas-fuelled vehicles by 2035, with a target for carbon neutrality by 2050.

Announcing the internal combustion engine phase-out plan, the Brussels Government said the  Bruxelles Environnement had undertaken several studies during 2020 which demonstrated that the planned improvement in air quality would prevent 100 to 110 premature deaths each year, reduce illnesses linked to NO2 exposure by 25% and save EUR100 to 350 million in health-related expenses. Projections also showed a reduction of between 65% to 75% in CO2 emissions.

It places Brussels as one of the more progressive cities tackling the impact of the polluting effects of internal combustion engines on local air quality and the impact on residents, along with London in the UK and Paris in France.

Making things more complicated for managing fleets is the lack of co-ordination on clean air policies across Europe. In the UK, the Government has a roadmap in place to ban diesel and petrol, cars by 2030, and all hybrids by 2035. The EU has yet to confirm plans for a ban although the European Commission’s proposed Euro 7 emission rules that encompass cars, vans, trucks and buses would amount to “a ban through the back door” it’s claimed.

Meanwhile, OEMs are setting their own targets with companies such as Mercedes-Benz saying it will eliminate virtually all combustion engines by the end of the decade; Opel/Vauxhall announcing it will become an electric-only brand in Europe by 2028; Audi planning to phase out combustion engines by 2033; while Renault says 90% of its vehicles will be battery electric models by 2030.

Meanwhile, data from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), paints a picture of a two-speed European charging network that could hamper fleet electrification policies.

The Association says that 70% of all EU charging stations are concentrated in just three Western European countries: the Netherlands (66,665), France (45,751) and Germany (44,538). Taken together these countries make up just 23% of the EU’s total surface area. By contrast, the other 30% of infrastructure is scattered throughout the remaining 77% of the region.

For example, Romania – which is approximately six times larger than the Netherlands – has only 493 charging points, equivalent to just 0.2% of the EU total.

ACEA said the two-speed infrastructure roll-out is developing along the dividing lines between richer EU member states in Western Europe and countries with a lower GDP in Eastern, Central and Southern Europe.

“Anyone who wants to buy an electric or fuel cell car depends on having reliable charging or refuelling infrastructure – whether that is at home, at work and on the road,” commented ACEA Director General, Eric-Mark Huitema. “The time has come for governments across Europe to pick up speed in the race to greener mobility.”

Top 5 European Countries With Most Chargers

1 Netherlands (66,665)

2 France (45,751)

3 Germany (44,538)

4 Italy (13,073)

5 Sweden (10,370)

Source: ACEA

In the UK, according to Zap-Map, there are nearly 25,000 chargers offering 42,619 connection points. The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) says it wants to see the installation of at least 2.3 million charging points by 2030 to enable the UK’s transition to electrification.

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