Helping cities buy cleaner vehicles

By News Editor / Updated: 27 Nov 2014

The sound is familiar to urban-dwelling Europeans. The piercing wail of the siren, the roar of the engine, as the emergency vehicle – be it police car, ambulance, or fire truck – races past.

Emergency vehicles play a vital role in maintaining our cities, and make up a large part of local government vehicle fleets. In addition, the provision of services and public works mandate that local governments own or lease a selection of other cars.

Despite their important role in society, these vehicles are often damaging to the environment, spewing harmful emissions and greenhouse gases. To address this, the European Union passed the Clean Vehicles Directive (2009/33/EC), requiring public authorities to take into account the environmental impacts stemming from the operation of vehicles when making purchasing decisions. The Directive aims to accelerate broad market introduction of clean and energy-efficient road transport.

To support with the implementation of the Clean Vehicles Directive, the Clean Fleets project, funded through the EC Intelligent Energy Europe Initiative, gives free and direct support to public authorities and fleet operators, including advice on specific procurement actions. This is primarily provided through the Helpdesk, and accompanied by capacity building through trainings, workshops and publications. Since the project started in 2012 it has already engaged with hundreds of individuals from authorities all over Europe.

The Clean Fleets project consortium, which includes European cities with extensive experience in clean vehicle procurement, is on-hand to give tailored advice. Procurers can contact the Helpdesk via email with a general question, or get in touch regarding a specific tender. Project staff members will then work with the procurer to develop a tender that either meets or goes beyond the requirements of current legislation. Those seeking to take part in ongoing discussion on clean vehicle procurement also have the option of joining the Clean Fleets forum online.

In addition to providing direct support, the Clean Fleets team have developed a toolkit of resources, such as a modular training package, fact sheets and a series of good practice examples. Practical guidance on implementation of the Clean Vehicles Directive is offered through a dedicated guide on how to procure clean and energy-efficient vehicles in line with the Directive, and a life-cycle costing tool comparing all costs associated with the ownership of vehicles, including environmental ‘costs’.

Clean Fleets project co-ordinator Simon Clement says: ‘Road transport accounts for about a fifth of total CO₂ emissions in Europe. Public procurement offers a huge potential to drive the market for vehicles with better energy and environmental performance.

‘The new regulations require public purchasers to rethink their procurement processes. This presents a real opportunity to reduce energy consumption, noise, CO₂ and other pollutant emissions considerably. The Clean Fleets project is there to help.’

For free advice, publications and access to the discussion forum, please visit where details of upcoming workshops can also be found.