After the vote in the European Parliament, is it possible to end thermal cars in Europe by 2035?

Decarbonization continues in Europe. The European Parliament voted this Wednesday, June 8 the ban, from 2035, on the sale of new thermal vehicles, as part of the European Union’s climate plan. This set of laws aims to reduce European greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and try to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Several proposals were on the agenda. One of the key and very divisive measures of the “Fit for 55” program concerns the automotive industry. MEPs therefore expressed their support for banning the sale of new thermal cars (petrol or diesel) or hybrids from 2035 onwards. Second-hand sales would not be affected. People who bought a new thermal car before the ban will be able to continue driving with it until 2035. This ban must now be discussed with EU Member States.

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Electric car: “The State must be the catalyst for change”

According to 2022 data from the European Parliament, the transport sector is the only one in which emissions have increased in the last three decades, with an increase of 33.5% between 1990 and 2019. Road transport accounts for about a fifth of EU emissions, cars in the lead with 60.6% of sector emissions.

50% higher price

“The automotive industry took this turn four years ago with extremely fast results”explains in Franceinfo Luc Chatel, president of Plataforma Automotiva (PFA) and former minister of the Fillon governments, between 2007 and 2012. However, he believes that the transition to fully electric is “a risky bet”. Because the price of an electric car is much higher than that of a thermal car:

“For the consumer, the electric car is 50% more expensive than a thermal car and today, according to a survey we carried out, 95% of French people think that electric vehicles are too expensive. »

According to Luc Chatel, mass production of electric vehicles will, in fact, lower the price. But close the gap for petrol or diesel cars “It will take several years, five, six, seven years”. Especially since the capacity of the industrial fabric to adapt and convert into electricity is “another risky bet”. “The worst would be if the automotive industry and European states spend hundreds of billions of euros and in the end there are no consumers at the meeting point and that technically we cannot do it. »

Installation difficulties

The ban on thermal vehicles also raises doubts and the sector still faces many challenges. First in terms of offer: “If electric cars stay as they are – SUVs with big batteries – we won’t have raw materials to meet production requirements in 2035”, indicates to “Liberation” Nicolas Meilhan, a consultant at the consultancy EV-Volumes, a specialist in the electric car sector. Among other things, it would be the battery components (lithium, cobalt and nickel), mostly imported, that would run out. Not to mention the increase in the price of these metals.

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The crowd of electric car terminals: the reasons for the French delay

This is not the only obstacle to the development of this sector. We must also take into account the lack of autonomy of vehicles. Not forgetting that the end of the battery life cycle is also problematic, as lithium is still very little recycled. By 2030, the European Union plans to require car manufacturers to use 4% recycled lithium in new batteries and 10% by 2035.

Whoever says electric vehicle also says charging stations. According to the latest barometer from Avere France, an association for the development of electric mobility, France currently has 58,000 terminals. Six times more will be needed by 2030, according to Release », citing the NGO International Council on Clean Transportation. On a European scale, the Renault group has around 200,000 public charging stations. By 2030, three million public terminals will have to be deployed in Europe to supply the 44 million electric vehicles.

“Indispensable Condition”

Among politicians, the move is far from unanimous, with some believing it would further elevate cars to the luxury product category. “The European Union will turn cars into luxury goods that the middle class will no longer be able to buy”denounced Marine Le Pen in March, at a meeting in Saint-Martin-Lacaussade (Gironde).

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“It may seem a long way off, but thirteen years to completely transform the biggest industry in terms of jobs in Europe is obviously extremely fast”, explains in Franceinfo the MEP of Renew (political group of liberals) and president of the Environment Committee of the European Parliament Pascal Canfin. For him, this Wednesday’s vote will be “the most massive vote for climate”.

The sequel after the announcement

For the Climate Action Network, this ban is “essential condition for making low-emission vehicles affordable for families and accelerating the industry transition”. The vote on this measure promises to be tight.

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