• Fuels remain an option
Petrol and diesel vehicles will still be allowed to drive in the EU after 2035. The law only concerns the sale of new vehicles. Europe will be the first major market to overtake China and the United States, but Norway has already set a deadline of 2025 and Israel of 2030.
• Hybrids and electrics are consolidating
Under the influence of European regulations, public subsidies and the growing supply of hybrids and electrics, gasoline vehicles are already in decline. This mainly benefited mild hybrids (petrol and diesel), which accounted for a quarter of European sales in the first quarter of 2022.
Plug-in hybrids accounted for 8.9% of the market and electric 10% (+53.4% in one year). Quite sophisticated at the moment, they are increasingly numerous on Dutch, Swedish or German roads in particular. But they are far from zero emissions, their emissions even being comparable or worse than those of a gasoline car if their owner does not recharge them.
Most Europeans now think their next car will be hybrid or electric, according to a survey by the European Investment Bank.
One big question remains: “What will drive a family to switch to two electric vehicles? », launches Eric Kirstetter, from the company Roland Berger. “People tend to cling to a combustion vehicle for fear of weekend trips or holidays.”
• The car, a luxury product?
The prices of electric cars, which are now much higher than those of internal combustion engines, could fall rapidly as they are mass produced and the cost of batteries drops.
The Stellantis group (Peugeot, Fiat, etc.) estimated in early 2022 that parity could be reached between 2025 and 2030, but prices for many materials have exploded since then. “Electricity will remain structurally quite expensive for a while. We are moving towards a market increasingly focused on people with more resources”warns Eric Kirstetter.
In the second-hand market, which worries most drivers, electric models are also starting to multiply.
On the other hand, the price of thermal cars is expected to increase as government penalties increase. Thermals could have an unexpected effect on the second-hand market, according to Eric Kirstetter.
• The industry must reconvert
France, Germany, Spain, Italy… In each of these countries, the automotive industry represents a significant part of industrial jobs.
But manufacturing electric vehicles requiring less labor than thermal vehicles, the energy transition could destroy many jobs despite the establishment of battery factories. In France, for example, the switch to electric could cause the loss of 65,000 jobs out of 200,000 in the sector, according to the automotive platform (PFA).
This transition is also “unprecedented opportunity” for start-ups such as Tesla and for Chinese manufacturers, supported by their government and an expanding local market, underlines Felipe Muoz, from consultancy Jato.
• Less emissions
“Low carbon electric vehicles offer the main decarbonisation potential of land transport in life cycle analysis”that is, including the manufacture of batteries, underline the UN climate experts (IPCC).
Without exhaust gases, the electric car also does not pollute the air in city centers. but she is not “green” however, because the electricity that drives it has to be produced, which is done with coal-fired power plants in some countries.
As for the manufacture of batteries, its main components come from mining, in countries with social rules that are often non-existent or incomplete.
Extracting and processing them creates new strategic dependencies, in China for example, and recycling them remains expensive.
After the battle in the hemicycle
MEPs, meeting in plenary session in Strasbourg, approved by 339 votes in favor (249 votes against, 24 abstentions) the text on the regulation of CO2 emissions from cars and vans, which is part of the EU’s ambitious climate plan.
The goal of “zero emissions” has been the subject of a bitter battle in the Chamber, with an amendment by the EPP (pro-European pro-right and leading force in Parliament) proposing to aim for a 90% reduction in car emissions by 2035.
This would have made it possible to continue selling hybrid cars. The amendment was narrowly defeated. On the other hand, the Greens, who wanted to move the ban on heat engines to 2030, were also not convinced.
The right, which also planned to take into account the carbon emitted for the production of a car, also failed to pass an amendment promoting the use of “synthetic fuels” potentially more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels.