In just over twelve years, no new car sold in Europe will be equipped with a petrol or diesel engine. This is the text voted on by the European Parliament that confirms the European Commission’s ambitions to reduce CO2 emissions from passenger cars and vans by 55% in 2030 and 100% in 2035. This system voted on by MEPs would also prevent the marketing of hybrid vehicles or vehicles that use biofuels.
But among the countries covered by this text, Germany and Italy asked the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union to add a clause according to which the Commission will be obliged to re-examine the objectives in the light of technological developments, including with regard to plug-in hybrid technologies. This review is due to take place in 2026. An amendment also specifies that, by 2035, cars using climate-neutral fuels may be able to be marketed. That’s why some manufacturers are working on synthetic fuels that could be climate neutral or even like the latest Alpine Alpenglow concept car presented at the Paris Motor Show, some would like to use green hydrogen (produced by electrolysis of water) to fuel a heat engine that will release water vapor during its combustion.
Apart from the derogation that will allow the luxury car sector to sell 1,000 to 10,000 registered passenger cars equipped with a thermal engine per year and that until 2036, it seems that the days of the thermal engine in Europe are numbered. Especially as the European Commission is currently analyzing CO2 emissions from plug-in hybrid engines. She would like the CO2 emissions tests of plug-in hybrids to be as close to their actual consumption as possible, believing the WLTP test is insufficient and does not really reflect the actual use of a plug-in hybrid vehicle.
We can say that in Europe, barring a highly unlikely reversal of the situation, the electric car has a bright future ahead of it and French manufacturers have every interest in expanding their range of electric cars to make a transition to electricity as soon as possible. . Already, Alpine is planning three electric vehicles in its range in 2026, including the replacement of the Alpine A110, which DS Automobiles says is ready, from 2024, to launch only 100% electric vehicles. It will be the electric DS 4 that will inaugurate this promise. Renault also wants to be fully electric as soon as possible and after the Renault Mégane E-Tech, we will be entitled to the new Renault 5 and Renault 4L, a Renault Scénic SUV inspired by the concept, the Scénic Vision car, etc. For other brands, the transition will be smoother. This is the case with Peugeot which will offer many electric variants in its catalogue, Peugeot e-3008 and e-5008, Peugeot e-308, Peugeot e-408 are already planned. The Citroën brand is also affected by this switch to electric, because the new Citroën C3 and C3 Aircross will have an electric version in their range.
What will the automotive scenario look like in 2035, when the sale of new combustion engine cars will be stopped? Today, according to data from the first half of 2022, in France, more than one in ten cars sold is 100% electric (exactly 12.1% of sales). Sales that are increasing, but in a market in sharp decline (-16.3%), where manufacturers, victims of the semiconductor crisis, favor sales and deliveries of electric cars. In any case, electric car sales figures are increasing and will continue to increase, and it is predicted that by 2030 there could be 230 million electric vehicles in service worldwide (there are 600,000 in France today), out of a total of approximately 1 .4 billion vehicles, the percentage of electric vehicles would thus reach 16.4%. In Europe and France, the percentage may be higher, but if we see more electric cars on our streets, it is certain that cars with internal combustion engines (or hybrid engines) will still make up the majority of the car fleet. Almost new thermal cars that will have been purchased before the fateful date of 2035, recent second-hand cars or cars with high mileage that will continue to circulate at all costs (outside urban areas from which they should be banned).
And in 2035, who will lead the electric market in France, Peugeot, Renault or Citroën? French manufacturers must be very careful, because German brands (including Volkswagen Group) are investing massively in electrics and so new players are appearing, among them Chinese brands that are also making great efforts to invest in Europe (we saw at the Motor Show in Paris). For French brands to remain at the forefront of this “electric” market in 2035, they must offer many models, at attractive prices and with great autonomy. And after 2035, what will happen? Will we witness a new fracture? After digital, are we going to see the emergence of the “electric divide”? As electric cars are expected to keep prices high (due to battery prices that are struggling to fall) and despite government incentives, these cars cannot quickly become mainstream cars. Furthermore, when Carlos Tavares (Head of Stellantis) indicates that the price of an electric car in relation to a thermal car should break even in a few years, is it not simply because the thermal car has seen its prices flying for some time? However, there will be a larger market for used electric cars, but will these cars be affordable enough? And then for those who will not be able to have a charging station at home (in a building, this is often the case) or close to their home (in rural areas, for example) and for whom electricity is not conceivable. When we realize that the goal of 100,000 charging stations on French territory by the end of 2021 has not been achieved and that by the end of 2022 we will painfully surpass 75,000 stations, will we reach a network of terminals in France and Europe in about ten years? ? Therefore, it is difficult to see the future automotive world today after 2035, a date as far away as it is near. What is certain, however, is that manufacturers will now increase their supply of electric cars.