Increasing Vehicle Age in EU Calls for Enhanced Green Policy Measures

The European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) has issued its annual report examining the composition of vehicles on Europe’s roads, highlighting a steady increase in the average age of vehicles. The report, ‘Vehicles on European roads,’ offers a comprehensive look at the current state of the vehicle fleet across the EU and underscores the need for policy interventions to promote the adoption of newer, cleaner vehicles.

Despite consumers’ growing popularity of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), with a nearly 15% market share in new car sales last year, they represent only a small fraction—1.2%—of the total vehicles in operation throughout the EU. This discrepancy indicates a slow replacement rate of older vehicles with new, environmentally friendly models.

ACEA’s findings illustrate an ageing fleet across the board. The average age of cars in the EU has risen to 12.3 years, with certain countries like Greece and Estonia reporting averages up to 17 years. For trucks, the EU average is 13.9 years, and for buses and vans, it is 12.5 years. Over the past five years, the average age of all vehicle types has increased by about one year.

The presence of older vehicles, which are typically less efficient and produce more emissions, emphasises the urgency of measures that encourage the transition to BEVs and other zero-emission models. While legislative targets are a step in the right direction, they are only one piece of the larger puzzle in reducing the transport sector’s carbon footprint.

The report suggests that Europe needs a more comprehensive approach to facilitate the necessary shift, including expanding charging infrastructure and financial incentives that reduce the cost barrier for consumers to upgrade to cleaner vehicle models. These combined efforts are crucial to accelerate the replacement of older vehicles and align Europe’s transportation sector with its sustainability targets.

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