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Future transport policy should address congestion, says Ford

Ford Motor Company has recognised for many years that there are congestion and environmental concerns associated with the use of vehicles, particularly in urban environments. This is why Ford has been actively pursuing a range of lower CO2 technologies, including electric vehicles.

While the European Commission’s intentions are positive, Ford believes there are other policy proposals that would better achieve the end goal than the recommendations in the White Paper on Transport Policy that was published.

“The Commission's position paper while well intentioned would not achieve its goals of improving transportation policy,” said Stephen Odell, chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe. “I believe the Commission should address the environmental and congestion issues associated with vehicles in urban areas to ensure consumer choice, and drive jobs and economic growth in Europe.”

Ford believes the proposals outlined in the White Paper – which call for a 50 per cent reduction in internal combustion-engined cars in urban areas by 2030, and a complete ban by 2050 – would not effectively address the issues of congestion and environmental improvement in urban areas. The proposal seeks to limit consumer choice of what vehicles can and cannot be purchased, and a more robust approach would better improve road transport infrastructure.

"While expanding the number of electric vehicles could help with our shared goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions depending on how the electricity is generated, it will not help us tackle the issue of urban congestion. This situation will best be resolved through a sensible debate on how to improve the road network and other aspects of the road infrastructure in urban areas as part of a holistic discussion on transport policy," Odell said.

Ford also questioned if more environmental benefits could be achieved through alternative proposals not outlined in the White Paper. Electric vehicles undoubtedly have an important part to play in the future of road transport. The White Paper, however, does not tackle the issue of how such a sharp demand for electricity within 20 years will be achieved. Ford believes any proposals that seek to rapidly ramp-up the electric vehicle fleet not only need to be market driven, but also must be aligned to an overall European Union energy policy.

“We can do more to advance the debate on the future of urban mobility in the EU if we maintain and enhance the Commission's previous, integrated, multi-modal transport approach that does not favour some transportation modes over others."

Ford would welcome the Commission adopting a more realistic and holistic approach to policy. In particular, it needs to pay much closer attention to the competitiveness of the European automotive industry, which it presumably hopes will be able to make the huge investments necessary to develop cleaner and safer vehicles.

"There is a great need for the European Commission to develop a holistic industrial policy to enhance Europe's international competitiveness,” Odell said. “Industry is an important wealth-creator for the European economy, and a vital driver for technological innovation.”

"As we have seen in recent months with the German economy, industry is key in aiding economic growth and well-being. It is critical for the future of the European economy that a comprehensive policy is created aimed at strengthening Europe's industrial base.”

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