Earlier this month, Covington’s Brussels, Frankfurt and London offices hosted a webinar on EU regulatory developments impacting connected and automated vehicles (CAVs). The seminar attracted participants from across the globe, predominantly from tech and automotive industries. This post features an overview of the sections on CO2 pooling, transmission standards: WiFi and 5G, EV chargers and some concluding statements. Part 1 focused on topics around CAVs and data.

Siobhan Kahmann (Brussels) introduced the evolving regulatory area of CO2 pooling in Europe in the context of electric vehicles (EVs). The EU has had vehicle CO2 performance standards in Europe for a number of years, setting out annual EU fleet-wide emissions per car manufacturer. The current limit comes in at 130g of CO2 per km for new passenger cars. Accordingly, manufacturers are currently fined 95 Euros per gram of CO2 in excess, across the entire fleet, but can also generate CO2 emissions credits and super-credits for zero and low-emission vehicles. This allows manufacturers to balance between their more and less environmentally friendly models within the same corporate group. The EU regulatory framework also offers the opportunity to form “open pools” with third parties/competitors, in order to report combined CO2 excesses and credits. This clearly represents an opportunity to EV manufacturers, and we are beginning to see the establishment of open pools over the last year. Parties entering an open pool must be careful to comply with competition laws in terms of only sharing strictly limited information, and must allow non-discriminatory access to others to join the pool (except in the case that the joining party would cause the open pool as a whole to exceed its emissions target).

Moritz Hüsch (Frankfurt) reviewed the current situation within the EU as regards the ongoing debate on the transmission standards ”WiFi” and “5G” – topics which are essential to the development of EVs. WiFi is used for short distance communication and combined with the existing mobile transmission standards ‑ 3G, LTE, and 4G ‑ for long distance communication. The main advantage of these technologies is that they are available and ready to use. However, critics – such as the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) – say that these technologies are outdated already and will be replaced by the new, much faster 5G-standard shortly, which is also favoured by the US and China. Pursuant to such critics the EU should support the 5G-standard or, at least, be technology neutral.

A number of different automotive suppliers strongly support one technology over the other, and the same debate has been taken up at an institutional level in Europe. Pursuant to the Directive 2010/40/EU on the framework for intelligent transport systems, the Commission had adopted a Delegated Regulation in March 2019 establishing minimum interoperability requirements, which supports the WiFi/3G/LTE/4G-standards. In July 2019 the Council objected to the Delegated Regulation with the consequence that it will not come into force; rather, it will be up to the Commission to make a new proposal – which will likely take some months given the upcoming changes in the Commission.

Siobhan then moved onto the topic of electric charger infrastructure – another developing market in the evolving world of CAVs. With the increasing numbers and popularity of EVs in Europe, there is a growing recognition of the need for home charging, city charging and long-distance charging solutions. While numbers of chargers in Europe are substantially growing it would seem that an apparent previous lack of such infrastructure did not put pioneer buyers off making EV purchases. However there are a number of growing ubiquitous issues that need to be addressed including fast charging facilities, office charging, solutions for city apartments, long-distance charging for multi-country trips, and the availability of funding and support. The different EU charger plug standards, namely Type 2, and the more recent faster CCS, were introduced. This was followed by a brief analysis of the ever evolving concept of EV charger market definitions in terms of the product, and the relevant geography – all of which is expected to be subject to radical changes in the future. Finally, Siobhan highlighted a couple of examples of approved EU state aid in the Netherlands and Germany for building out charging infrastructure, with the Commission specifically recognising the benefits to society from EVs, including reducing CO2 levels, pollution and noise.

The webinar wrapped up with a question and answer session, and in closing Kevin introduced Covington’s new Online CAV Toolkit, which is now available on our website to help clients safely harness the forthcoming opportunities in this exciting and evolving space.

This blog is part of Covington’s CAV series, which covers developments across the globe. Other recent CAV posts include: