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Europe in the electric car race: ACEA's urgent call for coordinated action

Amid the cutting-edge automotive innovations unveiled at the Geneva International Motor Show, the European automotive industry is sounding an alarm: a call to action in the rapidly evolving global race for electric cars. At a gathering of international journalists, academic experts such as Tommaso Pardi of the French National Centre for Scientific Research and industry leaders, including the President of the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) Luca de Meo, emphasised the urgent need for Europe to catch up and compete head-on with global rivals.

According to ACEA, Pardi's stark analysis pointed out that foreign electric car manufacturers currently lead the race, possessing a competitive edge due to early investments, vertical integration in the battery value chain, and larger economies of scale. Europe's strategic reliance on foreign entities, combined with the colossal task of phasing out 17 million combustion engine cars within a decade, has left the continent at a significant disadvantage.

The consensus emerging from the meeting was a resounding call for the immediate development of a "comprehensive and coordinated" automotive industrial policy. Pardi stressed the urgency of a unified strategy that aligns with the Green Deal puzzle, urging Europe to wake up to the challenges at hand.

This appeal resonates with the ACEA manifesto, advocating for a holistic EU industrial strategy covering all facets of the electric vehicle value chain. President de Meo underscored the urgency of meeting these conditions to achieve the ambitious combustion engine phase-out goal set for 2035.

"As business leaders, we will do everything to put our companies in the position to comply. We are there to push progress, to push for Europe to be innovative, and electrification is one of the innovation fields when it comes to transport," declared de Meo.

While the commitment to electrification within the industry is unwavering, a collaborative effort is deemed essential. A robust interim review of CO2 regulations, defined success metrics, and a clear trajectory towards 2035 are highlighted as crucial elements. The European Union is urged to play a pivotal role by establishing framework conditions, including access to charging points, affordable green energy, purchase incentives, tax schemes, and a necessary skills transformation of the labor force.

In a metaphorical expression, Pardi likened the electric car market to a rocket needing a push to get into orbit. The consensus among industry leaders is that only through concerted efforts across the automotive ecosystem and cooperation with policymakers can the European market gain the momentum it requires.

This urgent call for collaboration will be further explored during the upcoming #FutureDriven Reception in Brussels, where key industry figures such as Alexander Vlaskamp, CEO of MAN Truck & Bus; Peter Wennink, President and CEO of ASML; and Leonhard Birnbaum, CEO of E.ON, will join Luca de Meo to discuss how all players can work together to create true European champions in the electric car race. The event promises to be a crucial platform for shaping the future of the European automotive landscape.


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