28 Oct 22

EU set to effectively ban fossil fuel vehicles from 2035

The European Union is set to outlaw the sale of new petrol or diesel cars and vans from 2035. A report on Reuters said that negotiators from the 27 countries, the European parliament and European Commission, approved the new EU law on Thursday (27th October, 2022).

It is anticipated that this could be good news for drivers as new zero-emission cars may become cheaper as a result. But with continued supply shortages, particularly in relationship to battery manufacturing, that may not be the case.

Europe leading the way in zero-emmission mobility

According to Reuters, EU climate policy chief Frans Timmermans said the agreement sent a strong signal to industry and consumers. "Europe is embracing the shift to zero-emission mobility".

The initiative also includes a 55% cut in CO2 emissions for new cars sold from 2030 compared with  2021 levels, which beats the existing target (37.5%) by 12.5%. The same is true for new vans, which must be zero-emission by 2035 and 50% better by 2030 than in 2021.

Car makers are already stepping up. Earlier this week, VW boss Thomas Schaefer announced that the brand would only produce electric cars in Europe from 2033.

This move is not totally unexpected and reflects somewhat what's happening with fleet sales, which is that the sale of petrol cars has stabilised, the sale of diesel cars has reduced by just 12.5%, the sales of hybrid and electric cars has almost doubled and plug-in hybrids are dropping in popularity based on the latest figures from Dataforce. 

Source: Dataforce

Europe must galvanise into practical action

Meanwhile, ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association) has responded by urging European policy makers to be quicker off the mark with conditions that will enable zero-emission mobility.

“This extremely far-reaching decision is without precedent,” stated Oliver Zipse, ACEA President and CEO of BMW. “It means that the European Union will now be the first and only world region to go all-electric.”

“Make no mistake, the European automobile industry is up to the challenge of providing these zero-emission cars and vans,” said Mr Zipse. “However, we are now keen to see the framework conditions which are essential to meet this target reflected in EU policies. These include an abundance of renewable energy, a seamless private and public charging infrastructure network, and access to raw materials.”

Diversification in powertrains could be a better option

The Association has, for a long time, argued for a more diversified approach to clean transport, one in which combustion engines, hydrogen and other technologies could play a role.

ACEA Director General, Sigrid de Vries said: “We believe that technology openness remains essential to retain the agility to respond to different needs and to adapt to changing circumstances. As the current energy crisis demonstrates, diversification is essential to improve Europe’s resilience.”

Although cheered by the announcement, T&E (Transport & Environment) echoed the views of ACEA by saying a robust EU industrial strategy – including local content requirements for electric vehicles and batteries – is necessary to ensure European carmakers keep up in the global race to lead on this green technology. Chinese EV makers, which have benefited from years of subsidies and state-backed finance for their supply chains, are fast gaining market share in the EU. In the US, the Inflation Reduction Act is placing European manufacturers at a steep disadvantage to their American rivals.

Julia Poliscanova said: “Foreign carmakers are eating the Europeans’ lunch. The EU badly needs a joined-up strategy for its auto industry that speeds up electrification and future-proofs European jobs. Global competition is needed for scale and innovation, but manufacturers should be making more EVs and batteries in Europe. On the demand side, Europe needs a seamless charging network and policies to help middle and lower-income families drive electric cars too.”

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.

Image: Shutterstock

Authored by: Alison Pittaway