The EU Council has adopted new regulations that set stricter CO2 emission performance standards for new cars and vans. The main goal of the new rules is to reduce emissions from road transport, which accounts for the highest share of emissions from transport. The new standards are expected to provide the right push for the automotive industry to shift towards zero-emission mobility while ensuring continued innovation in the industry.

The new rules set ambitious targets for CO2 emission reductions, including 55% reductions for new cars and 50% for new vans from 2030 to 2034 compared to 2021 levels, and 100% reductions for both new cars and vans from 2035. These targets are part of the ‘Fit for 55’ package, which aims to reduce the EU’s net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and to achieve climate neutrality in 2050.

The new regulations also include a regulatory incentive mechanism for zero- and low-emission vehicles (ZLEV) that will be in place from 2025 until the end of 2029. Manufacturers that meet specific benchmarks for zero- and low-emission vehicle sales can be rewarded with less strict CO2 targets.

The regulation maintains a derogation for small-volume manufacturers until the end of 2035. It also includes a review clause that foresees a thorough assessment by the European Commission in 2026 of the progress made towards achieving the 2035 100% emission reduction targets and the possible need to review them.

The related revision of the deployment of an alternative fuels infrastructure (AFIR) is expected to boost the development of an infrastructure for drivers to recharge their vehicles across the member states.

The new regulations are expected to create opportunities for cutting-edge technologies and create momentum for industry to invest in a fossil-free future. Ultimately, zero-emission vehicles are expected to become cheaper than vehicles running on fossil fuels. The regulation will now be published in the EU’s Official Journal and enter into force on the twentieth day following that of its publication.