MEPs have approved a set of draft legislative amendments outlining rules for reducing the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of vans by 2020.

The draft amendments, voted on during the first week of May by the European Parliament’s Environment Committee, are designed to help van manufacturers achieve an average maximum of 147g of CO2 per kilometre.

They call for EU-registered manufacturers who make more than 1,000 vehicles a year to produce a sufficient number of cleaner or more fuel-efficient models to balance out any older or more polluting models to achieve an overall balance of 147g/km.

The Environment Committee has suggested the use of so-called ‘super credits’ to help van makers achieve this. This would assign a multiplier weighting to vans that emit less than 50g/km of CO2, with such vehicles counting as 3.5 vans in 2014, falling to 1.3 vans by 2018 as part of the system.

However, the number of vehicles taken into account when applying these multipliers would not be allowed to exceed 1% per manufacturer.

The committee also said it wanted to set a further CO2 emissions target from 2025 within an indicative range of 105-120g/km – unless an even lower target is justified by the use of low emissions technologies in the interim.

A challenge for sure

Nigel Base, commercial vehicle manufacturer at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said the targets were “very challenging”. He added that he was concerned they “may have been set with political goals in mind rather than on the basis of facts”.

Another industry insider who preferred not to be named told that while the 147g/km target was “tough but do-able”, the 2025 limits looked “very difficult to hit” for those making larger vans.

The super credits proposal would be of little help as it would only apply to 1% of production and only electric vehicles could currently achieve the sub-50g/km limit involved, he added.

Steve Bridge, sales and marketing director for vans at Mercedes-Benz UK, agreed the super credit proposal would be of little practical use to manufacturers, and said the financial investment and additional vehicle systems likely to be involved in meeting the 2025 targets could add unacceptably to purchase price and cut payloads.

“People moving goods from A to B don’t particularly want to be paying more for the product…but this innovation doesn’t come for free,” he pointed out.