In my last blog entry, I argued that the super credits system proposed by the European Commission to spur the adoption of zero- and low-emission vehicles (ZLEV) puts the incentives in the wrong place. It disproportionately rewards truck segments that already have separate drivers for electrification. I also proposed a fix to improve the super credits system involving the freight activity of the different truck segments.
Last month, the European Council reached its position on the CO2 standards for trucks, and in particular, on the thorny topic of ZLEV incentives. While Council’s position leaves the proposed super credits scheme largely untouched, at the insistence of more ambitious Member States, it includes provisions that instruct the Commission to assess the future introduction of a benchmark system for 2025 and to take into account the freight activity of the different truck segments.
Parliament’s position from November of last year, on the other hand, does away with the super credit system and proposes instead the introduction of a ZLEV benchmark. In Parliament’s proposal, a manufacturer that surpasses the ZLEV sales benchmark would be rewarded with a more lenient CO2 reduction target (bonus). Conversely, if the benchmark threshold is not met, it would be penalized with a more stringent CO2 target (malus). Parliament’s position includes no differentiation between truck segments based on their freight activity, though.
What remains now is for Council, Parliament, and Commission to reach an agreement during trilogues (one of them is taking place today); an expedited one at that, given the EU elections calendar. So, what is it going to be, benchmark or super credits?
Although super credits can improve the cost-effectiveness of zero-emission trucks as a compliance strategy, they have the perverse consequence of eroding the environmental benefits of the CO2 standards. In principle, Parliament and Council seem to agree on this issue: the former abandoned the super credits system, and the latter included provisions that would allow doing so in the near future.
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