Brussels on Wednesday proposed reducing CO2 emissions from new cars in the EU to zero by 2035, which would de facto halt sales of petrol and diesel vehicles on that date in favor of 100% of electric motors.
The measure should help meet EU climate targets, but “it will also benefit citizens by reducing energy costs and improving air quality,” the commission explained.
However, the automotive industry is concerned about the lack of filling stations and industrial transformation that could cause jobs to bleed. Even if it is already engaged in transition.
“A dozen major manufacturers in Germany and Europe have already announced the transformation of their fleet towards exclusively zero-emission vehicles between 2028 and 2035,” underlined European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
The bill, if adopted in its current state, would mean the end of 2035 of the sale of vehicles with heat engines, including hybrids (petrol-electric) and plug-in hybrids.
Battery-powered electric vehicles, as the only ones that meet zero-emission requirements, would de facto become the only ones in the new European market, even if no technology is officially imposed.
However, the Commission’s proposal will be debated by the European Parliament and the Member States for more than a year, which could lead to important adjustments.
“Nothing presented today will be easy, it will even be damn difficult,” acknowledged European Environment Commissioner Frans Timmermans, citing the need to act in the interests of future generations.
Cars, the first way for Europeans to travel, account for about 15% of CO2 emissions, one of the primary gases responsible for global warming.
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Stagnation between major producer countries (Germany, France, Spain, Italy) against countries without national producers such as Austria, Denmark or the Netherlands. France has already indicated that it wants to defend the survival of hybrids after 2035.
At the same time, the European executive is committed to the strong development of bottling plants. “There must be filling stations every 60 kilometers along the main roads in Europe,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promised.
Late last year, the EU counted 260,000 publicly available bottling plants among its 27 member states, of which 70% in only three countries (Germany, France, the Netherlands). It promises a million in 2025, 3.5 million in 2030 and 16.3 million in 2050.
Europe has already imposed on car manufacturers an average of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer as early as 2020, which should have been further reduced by 15% in 2025 and by 37.5% in 2030.
Finally, this reduction will be stepped up to reach 55% in 2030 and then 100% in 2035, according to a proposal from Brussels. These figures would be an immense constraint for an industry that by 2027 will also have to count on tightening pollution standards imposed by heat engines.
Existing standards have already produced effects, manufacturers have been forced to invest tens of billions of euros in electrifying their range.
In a market that is generally in decline due to the coronavirus pandemic, 100% electric cars have made strong progress. Between April and June, they accounted for 9.3% of new registrations in Western Europe, a share more than quadrupled in two years, according to analyst Matthias Schmidt.
The Commission’s project delighted conservatives. “This is a milestone for the automotive industry and good news for drivers,” said Transport & Environment CEO William Todts.
According to him, “the new EU rules democratize electric cars and give a big boost to charging, which means that clean cars will soon be affordable and easy to charge for millions of Europeans.”