The Spanish industrial vehicle sector continues to lag behind in the race to decarbonize heavy road transport. Two years ago, the European Commission proposed limiting carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions by 45% until 2030 and almost entirely from 2040. A challenge that the Spanish Association of Automobile and Truck Manufacturers (Anfac) sees difficult, if not impossible, given the current conditions of the fleet of industrial vehicles and buses. Only 0.7% of the models registered in Spain in 2022 were electric, a figure that grew to 1.3% between January and August of this year. To alleviate this, the association presented this Tuesday a roadmap that summarizes a series of demands to the Administration with the aim of bringing the industry closer to the goals set by Brussels.
“We are facing gigantic and accelerated pressure,” stated the general director of Anfac, José López-Tafall, at the presentation of the report in Madrid. The head of the employers’ association believes that decarbonization is a feasible effort, “but not in any way”: trucks and buses, he argues, are work tools of transporters and, therefore, the operational cost required to acquire a new vehicle “is decisive for buyers’ decision making.” The sector demands improvements in the corporate tax deduction for the purchase of these models, as well as an exemption in the special tax on the electricity they use for recharging. Otherwise, “this type of car will be left out of the market,” López-Tafall emphasized.
Manufacturers highlight that the road transport industry accounts for 4.8% of Spanish GDP and that approximately 600,000 jobs depend on it, according to the Transport and Logistics Observatory. Furthermore, it moves close to 90% of goods in national territory, a figure much higher than other countries in Europe, where the train (cleaner and, often, cheaper) is the majority. Road transport emits almost 28% of the industry’s greenhouse gases in Spain: “We are the blood through which Spain’s economy runs,” López-Tafall emphasized in his speech.
To get closer to the decarbonization objectives of heavy transport, manufacturers are also calling for improving energy supply infrastructure. “If there is no state center to promote the charging and refueling of electric and low-emission vehicles, it is impossible to move forward. They already exist in the transport ministries of Germany and Portugal, and we want one here,” defended the head of Anfac, who believes that the Administration has to put emphasis on charging points above 350 KW. “We have about 22,000 charging points, but there are only 317 above or equal to 150 KW. We need a network for high power,” he stated.
Fees remain at a minimum
The industrial transportation market still maintains very low quotas in the use of electric or low-emission vehicles. According to data collected by Anfac and Ideauto, in 2022 only 0.7% of registered transport vehicles – an item that includes light trucks (up to 6 tons), medium trucks (between 6 and 16) and heavy trucks (over 16 )—were electric. This percentage improved to 1.3% during the first eight months of 2023. The electrification rate for buses is more promising; in this type of vehicles it reaches 6%. The European Commission aims for this last category to completely reduce CO₂ emissions by 2030.
Manufacturers have also emphasized that transport fleets are in a very high aging process, with an average age of 14.7 years for trucks and 11.8 years for buses. The union considers it necessary to launch a specific plan to renew municipal fleets for the 2024-2026 horizon. Although Anfac defends vehicle purchase assistance programs, such as the Moves plan, it believes that the organization must be improved: “We have been asking for an update of the budgets for years. At the moment, we do not know how many resources remain,” López-Tafall clarified. Moves encourages the purchase of an electric vehicle with aid ranging up to 7,000 euros.
The employers’ association has also recalled that measures must be explored to compensate for the increase in the cost of electricity and gas, “in a sector that is not particularly intensive, but that is extremely sensitive to international competition.” The president of Anfac and Seat, Wayne Griffiths, has indicated that at the moment manufacturers have not been threatened by the entry of foreign models, especially from Asia, – unlike the passenger car market, where the European Commission recently announced the opening of an investigation. “However,” Griffiths argued, “let’s not see competitiveness as something negative.” The highest representative – non-executive – of the employers’ association has stated that only by being more competitive can the Spanish heavy vehicle sector stay afloat within the market.
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