Features
28 Oct 22

The death knell is louder; could this be the end for the combustion engine?

An historic opportunity was missed in yesterday's trialogue negotiations between the EU Parliament, Council and Commission on CO2 fleet regulation. This is the view of Europe’s largest industry association, the Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA).

Headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany and representing around 3,400 members, the VDMA fears that the death of the combustion engineer will cause wide-spread devastation to the automotive industry and its suppliers who are already well established in eFuels.

“Instead of making the opening for eFuels binding and thus securing the future of the internal combustion engine powered by eFuels in a climate-neutral way, only the non-binding recital 9a was retained in the regulation. A ban on the combustion engine for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, which would hit European industry hard and would also unnecessarily hamper climate protection, is thus still conceivable," says Hartmut Rauen, Deputy Executive Director of the VDMA, commenting on the decision.

Technological openness as the means of choice 

The VDMA had emphatically demanded that all technological solutions continue to be used so that the ambitious climate targets in road transport for 2030 and 2050 can be achieved. To this end, an opening clause for eFuels should have been made legally binding in the trialogue negotiations. As a result, the association fears the loss of jobs on a considerable scale if the implementation of the recital is not set in concrete in a timely manner. The EU Commission now has a duty to implement this in practice so that new cars with internal combustion engines are allowed to enter the market after 2035, provided they only use climate-neutral fuels.

“With its stance against eFuels, the EU is doing a disservice to climate protection and massively endangering an industry with long, well-established value chains.”

Hartmut Rauen, Deputy Executive Director of VDMA

In addition, there would be a loss of know-how: "European suppliers of engine components will gradually disappear from the market," explains Peter Müller Baum, Managing Director of VDMA Engines and Systems. With them, the skills and knowledge that are urgently needed for engines in trucks, excavators, tractors and ships, for example, will be lost.

As a result, new dependencies would arise. "With its stance against eFuels, the EU is doing a disservice to climate protection and massively endangering an industry with long, well-established value chains," concludes Hartmut Rauen.

The Fleet Europe Summit, this year in Dublin, 16-17th November, has sustainability as a central theme. Don’t miss the opportunity to network, learn and share ideas with your peers, industry experts and 800-1000 delegates. Registration is now open.

Main image: Hartmut Rauen, Deputy Executive Director of VDMA.

Authored by: Alison Pittaway