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Electric avenue: The future of road transport in Europe

November 2017 – This report draws together insights from businesses and industry experts to map the trends toward electrification and automation in the road transport sector. It seeks to make a high-level assessment of the implications and opportunities for European businesses, as well as what policymakers need to do to respond to these trends.

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Future of Road TransportAbout

Radical changes are occurring in the road transport sector with wide-reaching implications for European businesses, policymakers and consumers. Innovations such as electric vehicles and self-driving cars are no longer confined to research departments but are finding their way on to residential driveways and into company fleets. Transport is also evolving towards a service model, rather than one based primarily on car ownership. The changes are being enabled by new technology and incentivised by the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions and localised air pollution.

The trends in road transport should – if the right policies and choices are made – result in better air quality, safer roads and reduced congestion; and contribute towards CO2 reduction targets. They will also open up many new business opportunities for companies in Europe and beyond. But they also carry risks for those that fail to respond. Businesses need to understand how transport is changing and react accordingly; and policymakers must support them to make investment decisions that have positive social and environmental outcomes and allow them to remain competitive.

This report from The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) maps the trends in the road transport sector and assesses the implications and opportunities for European businesses, as well as providing recommendations for policymakers. Below is a summary of the main findings and recommendations:

The rise of electric vehicles and automation is inevitable

Europe’s legacy car makers urgently need to catch up with, and respond to, these changes or risk being made irrelevant by competition from the US, China and beyond.

New transport ecosystems are appearing

The infrastructure and services needed to support and enable new transport technologies, such as electric and automated vehicles, offer new business opportunities, for example in the sharing economy. In some areas, such as battery manufacturing, Europe is lagging behind.

Transport is becoming more about services and less about products

Future road transport will be as much about selling data-enabled mobility services, and extracting the value from data produced by vehicles, as about manufacturing and selling cars. New ownership models and consumption patterns are being adopted, which is accelerated by new technology.

The opportunities – and the competition – are global

There are millions of new consumers in places like China and India, ready to consume the new forms of transport; these markets will also give birth to capable new companies that challenge the incumbents.

Policymakers need to act fast to help European business catch up

European policymakers should pass legislation and invest in infrastructure that encourages innovation and new business models supporting the jobs of the future, rather than seek to protect jobs based on out-dated business models.



The report is based on interviews with senior representatives of the following CLG member companies: 

3M, Acciona, Anglian Water, Iberdrola, Jaguar Land Rover, Lex Autolease (part of Lloyds Banking Group), Tesco

And senior representatives from the following organisations:

C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group; EV100, The Climate Group; European Climate Foundation; European Commission - DG MOVE; Regional Centre for Energy Policy Research, Hungary; WRI India.


Citing this report

Please refer to this publication as University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). (2017). Electric avenue: The future of road transport in Europe, Cambridge, UK: The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group.


Published: November 2017

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Author and acknowledgments

This business briefing was authored by Nicholas Walton with editorial input from The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) Secretariat and Amy Barry of di:ga Communications. CLG is a member of the We Mean Business coalition, which has provided financial support for the production of this report.


The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not represent an official position of CLG, CISL, the wider University  of Cambridge, or clients.