Clean Vehicles Directive

Successfully implementing decarbonization in the mobility sector

The Clean Vehicles Directive (CVD) has been mandatory in Germany since August 2, 2021. The Directive introduces mandatory minimum targets in relation to the purchasing of low-emission and zero-emission vehicles in public procurement for the first time. This affects transport and mobility service providers as well as certain stakeholders organized under private law, including parcel services and waste collection providers. They now have the task of aligning their fleet according to predefined criteria. To be successful in this, decision-makers need to fully engage with the CVD and the various technological possibilities for minimizing the emissions from their vehicles.

Fleet conversion

Switching to low-emission drive systems

To date, the requirements from commissioners, distributors and operational functions in relation to conventional drive systems were mostly clear and commonplace, and easily handled by those responsible. From a purchasing point of view, the procurement of electric, battery or hydrogen vehicles is simply a change in specification.

However, the Clean Vehicles Directive brings some complexity to the issue: The individual operating concepts of new drive systems must be reviewed for suitability, and included in the business case. Both from an operational perspective and in terms of purchasing, the question of whether a transport/mobility company should convert its fleet to hydrogen or battery operation is far from trivial. New technologies need to be considered over their whole lifecycle, and in some cases entire operational processes need to be adapted. A few fundamental questions must be addressed in this process:

  • Which technologies match the company’s requirements profile? (e.g. battery- or hydrogen-powered buses?)
  • Which technologies are most economically appropriate?
  • What requirements exist in terms of infrastructure and fuel (e.g. roll-out of charging stations, form of production and availability of large quantities of (green) hydrogen)?
  • What financial resources are available for the conversion? Can funding be used and how can it be applied for?

There are risks at the moment, particularly with regard to the matter of fuel, and this makes it important to take into account uncertainties when estimating follow-up costs. The cost path of hydrogen over the next few years, the development of a hydrogen infrastructure, and the service life of alternatively powered buses, for example, are relevant here.

Hydrogen as an alternative fuel

Thinking in ecosystems

Looking at currently prevailing business case calculations and the scenario considerations of our clients in the public transport sector, it becomes clear that hydrogen could have the potential to establish itself as an alternative fuel for the long-term decarbonization of bus fleets. At the same time, it is evident that many companies in the mobility sector have little experience in building hydrogen infrastructure.

We recommend that decision-makers who favor hydrogen as a future fuel consider their value chain in reverse. In doing so, they should review whether the company’s current profile of expertise can cover the future requirements arising from all stages of the hydrogen value chain – from generation, to transport, to use. If they are not able to do this, it is essential that they enter into partnerships to supplement the lack of expertise. Collaboration with energy providers, for example, is useful in ensuring the delivery, storage and supply of green hydrogen for existing depots. In this area, it is advisable to pool synergies and develop joint initiatives for the production, supply and storage of hydrogen in line with the ecosystem concept.

Best practices and expertise

Designing change processes that succeed

In the course of switching to alternative drive systems, transport companies are facing new challenges, for instance in terms of operating mixed fleets. This means ensuring the continued operation of conventional diesel drives in combination with alternative drive systems. To successfully make this transition, it is essential to expand infrastructure and expertise within the company. Some examples of steps toward these goals include equipping depots with hydrogen filling stations, instruction about safety precautions in workshops, and training employees in handling hydrogen.

Together with our customers, we are currently developing strategies for decarbonizing existing vehicle fleets in order to empower them to meet the minimum requirements of the Clean Vehicles Directive. Feasibility studies, business case and scenario analyses and infrastructure operating concepts are being used in this process. We also provide comprehensive support in connection with funding options – from identification, through to submission and monitoring of the application process.

Our interdisciplinary team of energy and transport experts contributes well-founded experience in the relevant areas relating to decarbonization in the mobility sector, as well as current projects on the subject of clean vehicles.

We would be happy to discuss your questions in an individual meeting with you.