Green mobility is a demand
For more than ten years sustainable mobility, understood as a greater use of alternative technologies with lower environmental impact, is without a doubt a major topic in the automobile industry. The demand for reducing vehicle pollution -which accounts for 16% of the total CO2 emissions and 13% of greenhouse emissions (OICA, “Climate change and CO2”) globally- is being considered by a growing number of countries which, in many cases, are taking actions in that direction. Among these, the introduction of more restrictive emission standards and taxes for OEMs can be mentioned.
This is the case, in Europe, of resolution 443, which imposes a progressive threshold of CO2 emissions based on the real number of cars sold on manufacturers. The goal in Europe is 130g/km in 2015 and 95g/km by 2020. Therefore, it is a quantitative formulation, which aims not only at specific levels of emission of a given vehicle but also at a global reduction, in terms of millions of tons, of the current vehicle fleet.
Today, natural gas and LPG are the two alternative fuels that are most used by vehicles manufacturers in Europe to comply with these thresholds and avoid heavy sanctions. This is a choice made with the awareness that these two gases not only reduce CO2 by 20% and 10% respectively but also that they don’t produce any particulates.
The sales of vehicles powered by these fuels are not, however, consistent: their market share in Italy is 14%; their use in the Netherlands, Poland and some countries in Eastern Europe goes back many years but mostly due to the conversion of vehicles already in use; in other countries (Great Britain, France, Spain) its implementation is marginal. Germany’s case is very particular, as all “alternative” new vehicles in 2014 (i.e., not only NGVs but also hybrid and EVs) obtained a modest market share of 1.7%. However, some German manufacturers offer models that are very successful abroad. That is the case of natural gas-powered Volkswagen Golf, which is commercialized in Italy as of April 2014: this model, in the 9 months that followed, represented 22% of all Golf sold, with a growing trend (33% in the last trimester of 2014). In Germany, however, only 0.5% of the Golf sold during the same period ran on methane.
Evidently, OEMs are also selling electric vehicles (pure, extended range or plug-in) or hybrids. In the EU-28 area, these vehicles represented 1.8% of the market in 2014, just like natural gas and LPG which, however, as mentioned, have market shares only in some countries.