28 Feb 23

Without e-fuels Germany will not vote in favour of 2035 ban

Germany's Minister of Transport, Volker Wissing, has told media that his country will withdraw on the final vote for the de facto ban on combustion engines as of 2035 unless the EU puts forward a proposal for registering cars running on e-fuel after that deadline. Poland, Bulgaria, and Italy support Germany, pushing the deal to the brink of collapse.

"We need all options, including battery-electric, hydrogen, and combustion engines running on e-fuels,” Wissing (pictured above) said in his statement. He added that "the European Commission must deliver, to enable a registration of combustion engine vehicles even after 2035."

The European Commission flagged off the proposal for the exclusive sale of zero-emission cars from 2035 in October last year. In early 2022 it was ratified by the European Parliament. It is highly unusual for an agreement to stumble in the final phase or the vote by individual member states, which is usually regarded as a formality. The vote is scheduled for the 7th of March 2023.

Back to the drawing board

Germany putting its foot down might halt the landmark deal since the qualified majority would not be reached. Without a 55% representation of member states the phase-out plan would be rejected in the final straight line. As such, the plan would be sent back to the European Parliament for amendments.

Wissing points his finger in particular to EU climate chief Frans Timmermans, who, according to the German Minister, only puts forward "negative comments but no proposal". Germany previously only approved the 2035 ban under the condition of a clause re-evaluating the plan in 2026, including a proposal on e-fuels. This explains Wissing's last-minute tackle.

"Power politics"

The green body Transport & Environment commented that Wissing's threat is "power politics" and that the industry would only benefit from certainty coming from a steadfast decision. But Wissing is supported by Italy's Prime Minister Georgia Meloni, who has angrily declared that the ban is not "reasonable" and is a threat to her country's industry.

The deadline for zero tailpipe emissions keeps polarising the stakeholders. Last week, thirty companies addressed the EU in an open letter to advance the deadline for the ban by five years, fully electrifying their fleets by the end of the decade.

Though Porsche is the only German car brand registered with the eFuel Alliance, a lobby group for synthetic fuels, more local vehicle makers are preparing their current line-up of ICE cars to run on synthetic fuels. Technically, the adjustments aren't too complicated.

In this article, you can read what e-fuels mean for fleets. Many in the sector believe synthetic fuels can be a favourable way of decarbonising the European car fleet still running on combustion engines after 2035.

Image Source: volker-wissing.de




Authored by: Piet Andries