29 Jun 22

Confirmed: Europe's ban on ICE vehicles from 2035

Cars and vans face tough decarbonisation deadlines as part of the European Commission's Fit for 55 programme

Fleets will have to plan for an electric vehicle future from 2035, after Environment Ministers at the European Council agreed to ban the sale of new cars and vans with internal combustion engines from 2035. The decision supports a vote in favour of the same deadline by the European Parliament earlier this month.

Some EU member states were understood to be pushing for a five-year delay, until 2040, for the ban on new ICE sales, but an agreement on the earlier date has been reached thanks to a concession on e-fuels.

Frans Timmermans said the negotiations had been “long and sometimes complicated,” but added that they would: “allow us to get to reduction of at least 55% of our [CO2] emissions by 2030 [compared to 1990] and this will really set us on a trajectory to climate neutrality by 2050.”

The Council has also agreed to a 50% reduction in van CO2 emissions by 2030.

OEM reaction

While Ford and Volvo have openly supported the 2035 deadline, ACEA, which represents European vehicle manufacturers, called for a drastic improvement in electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the EU to support the CO2 reduction targets. It also expressed concern that the 2035 deadline depended on OEMs being able to source the raw materials required to make electric vehicles.

Oliver Zipse, ACEA President and CEO of BMW, said: “The decision of the Council raises significant questions which have not yet been answered, such as how Europe will ensure strategic access to the key raw materials for e-mobility. If the EU wants to be a pioneer of sustainable mobility, the availability of these materials must be secured. Otherwise, we will be threatened with new dependencies, as other economic regions have already positioned themselves at an early stage.” 

He added that European policy makers need to set and enforce targets for individual member states to build EV recharging infrastructure.

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Alternative carbon neutral fuels

The European Council decision kept open the door to hydrogen and CO2-neutral fuels as decarbonisation alternatives to vehicle electrification, although green campaigners dismissed these technologies as a distraction.

Transport & Environment Cars said vehicles powered by e-fuels emit significantly more CO2 than battery electric vehicles over their lifecycle and pump out as much toxic NOx emissions as petrol vehicles.

Julia Poliscanova, senior director for vehicles and emobility at T&E, said: “European governments have taken the historic decision to end the sale of polluting cars. Today is a huge step forward for the climate fight, but also for air pollution and making electric vehicles more affordable. The end of the combustion engine is great news for the climate. But new proposals on fuels are a diversion. Let’s not waste any more time on e-fuels and instead focus on rolling out charging, re-skilling workers for the electric transition and responsibly sourcing material for batteries.”


Image: Shutterstock

Authored by: Jonathan Manning