Now it’s official: the sale of thermal cars will be banned in Europe from 2035. The European Parliament in fact decided on Wednesday, June 8, that only cars and vans under 3.5 t that do not emit gases in the Greenhouse gas exhaust can be traded after this encounter. A somewhat utopian goal that can only be achieved in practice with a focus on the all-electric.
The current decision still has to be negotiated with the various EU countries, but Brussels intends to ban the sale of new gasoline, diesel or even hybrid cars. Many proposals, such as the integration of e-Fuels, had been made in the reduction targets, but were rejected on the grounds that “Synthetic fuels consume a lot of electricity during their production”.
For Yves Carra, spokesperson for Associação Automóvel Clube (ACA), 100% electric is not the solution and its non-polluting character is a myth: “With the electric car, the objective is to tell ourselves that we are going to win in CO2 emissions, in pollution. We agree, we are all moving towards decarbonization, manufacturers understand that. But we are imposing technology on them. It’s a lie. It doesn’t exist. You have to produce electricity, produce the car and recycle. It generates a lot of pollution. The car, mobility, will never be 100% carbon free. That’s not true.”he explains in the RMC.
Around a quarter of EU CO2 emissions come from the transport sector, including 12% from passenger cars. According to the objective now adopted, annual emissions from new vehicles must, from 2030 onwards, be 55% lower than in 2021. For 2035, the quota is even 100% in relation to 2021. To date, all registered new car vehicles will have to be emission-free – something EU directives say can only be achieved with electric cars or vehicles that can run on hydrogen.
And it is this paradigm that shakes relations between manufacturers and MEPs. If everyone agrees on the need to reduce the carbon footprint, it is the obligation of technology that scandalizes some. For ADAC, equivalent to the Automobile Club in Germany, “Electromobility alone will not make it possible to achieve the ambitious goals of climate protection in the field of transport. Therefore, it would be necessary to also open a perspective for the combustion engine whose fuel is neutral to the climate.”
In fact, the problem is not so much with the internal combustion engine, but with what goes into it to create the combustion. For Yves Cara of ACA, “We know how to make non-carbonated liquid fuel. Even E85 is a solution with only 15% petroleum. Also, a hydrogen heat engine works perfectly just by changing the injectors. All solutions will be good for decarbonizing, but not everything electric, this is not true.”
To achieve the defined objectives, the proposal of the deputies foresees the massive development of the charging infrastructure. Thus, refueling and recharging capabilities will be installed at regular intervals along major highways – it will be possible to recharge electric vehicles every 60 kilometers, and a hydrogen filling station will be installed every 150 kilometers.
On the industry side, a whole chain of production, sale and use will have to be rethought. Currently, 243 million vehicles are registered in the EU and their average age is 11.5 years. 9.9 million passenger cars were sold in the EU last year. 25% of all cars produced in the world come from the European Union, of which 47.5% are powered by gasoline and 24.5% use alternative fuels (PHEV, HEV and EV). In addition, 14.6 million Europeans work in the automotive industry, or 6.7% of jobs in the EU, spread across 226 vehicle assembly and production plants.
The green business of the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen will therefore have serious consequences for the automotive industry and for drivers, although two aspects remain to be evaluated: the reaction of governments to this directive and the way in which the charging network will develop. We know, for example, that France intends to promote hybrid engines from 2035 onwards. Furthermore, if the ban on the sale of new thermal vehicles appears to have been registered, thermal cars already in circulation will still be allowed to circulate at least until 2050. As for the charging network, great efforts will have to be made: France has a significant delay, with only 60,000 charging points deployed against 100,000 promised at the end of 2021.