Pascal Canfin: “The electric car is simply the most obvious technology”

Posted on Oct 28, 2022, 7am

This time, it’s well and truly voted. After months of negotiations, the European Union on Thursday night approved a ban on the sale of new cars with exhaust emissions – which effectively excludes diesel and gasoline vehicles from the European market. A strong choice in favor of the environment, which, however, has garnered criticism from industrialists and political leaders in recent weeks. Pascal Canfin, chairman of the LREM of the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, answered point by point.

Last night European Europe validated the ban on new petrol and diesel cars in 2035. Is this realistic?

The whole world is going electric, and California has made the exact same decision. I also remind you that this is a “zero CO2 emissions in the tailpipe” standard, not a technological standard. Electric is simply the most obvious technology as we speak.

Carlos Tavares accuses Brussels of rolling out the “red carpet” for Chinese electric cars and of “doing everything upside down”…

Those who accuse us today of playing China’s game are the same people who told us five years ago that the electric car was not possible. As for the criticisms of Carlos Tavares, who has been the most present in recent days, I can show you the email from Stellantis, received on the morning of June 8th, the day of the vote in the European Parliament, supporting 100% zero -emission in 2035 We cannot support a measure and say 3-4 months later that it is an absolutely scandalous decision. It takes some consistency!

But isn’t there a grain of truth and the risk of losing sovereignty on merit?

The Chinese are present in the small electric car market, where European automakers refuse to invest today. In addition, there are almost no basic thermal vehicles produced in Europe today. And nobody accuses Brussels of having rolled out the red carpet in Morocco or Turkey. I would add that electrification gives us the opportunity to correct the situation, as it involves new investments. We can win this battle, but everyone – public authorities and industry – must play the game, which involves things on both sides.

Is that to say ?

In fact, we must not transform dependence on fossil fuels into a new dependence on China. This measure on the CO2 standard should not be taken in isolation from the rest of European policy on these matters or on batteries, for example. Our policy is also an industrial policy. 5 years ago we were nowhere in battery production, we will be the second in the world in 5 years, when the whole gigafactory will be deployed. I’ve even heard that eventually we’ll be in overproduction…

There is also the issue of raw materials for the electric car. China is now inevitable…

In raw materials, we are working on the “law of critical raw materials” led by Thierry Breton, which aims to reallocate necessary production. It’s also about developing alternatives to lithium-ion to use the materials we have. You have to do everything at once, and that’s exactly what you’re doing.

Does this measure also risk destroying hundreds of thousands of jobs?

This number is exaggerated. There is no consensus on the magnitude of the potential impact on the sector. This is what we asked the European Commission to analyze to support the most affected players, in particular equipment manufacturers.

In addition, to support European employees of subcontractors affected by the end of the heat engine, we would like to see a European Fund for a Just Transition. The final negotiations launched a clear process that will lead to a legislative proposal in 2025. We were not able to include it directly in today’s text because it is not a budget text.

In China and the United States, governments protect this nascent industry with protectionist structures. Is Europe still not very naive?

There are two possible worlds. Either the great automotive powers – the United States, China, Europe, Japan and Korea – play the game of regionalization and each one sells the cars it produces in its area, or we play collectively by adopting common rules of the game. That would be the best in my opinion, but what is certain is that Europe cannot be the only one in the second option.

And if so?

If the United States confirms its stance in favor of made in the USA, of course we will have to do the same. The reverse would be incomprehensible. At some point, we cannot negotiate a free trade agreement with the United States and accept this rule of the game without reciprocity, this is the subject of reflections in Justice in favor of a Buy European Act, strongly pressured by the President of the Republic, to protect our industry and promote the reallocation of strategic activities.

Will consumers have to buy increasingly expensive electric cars?

Already today, in some cases, the total cost of using an electric car is lower than that of a thermal car, mainly because the cost of maintenance is much lower. And it is to compensate for the difference in the purchase price that we are preparing this lease measure at 100 euros per month for families who cannot buy a new car while they cannot pass by car.

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