Last February, the European Parliament passed new legislation to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles and tackle climate change. The legislation virtually forbids the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles within the European Union as of 2035.

Simply put, the newly approved law required carmakers to achieve a 100% cut in CO2 emissions by 2035 from new cars sold.

Despite EU countries agreeing on the deal with lawmakers last October, the law still needed final approval, which was expected this month.

However, at last week’s meeting, some EU member states delayed formal approval of the legislation. Germany has united with Italy and certain Eastern European nations in opposition to the planned phase-out of internal combustion engines (ICE).

The halt on the legislation seems to be due to the missing explanation on the role played by CO2-neutral, or “e-fuels”, and the need for more clarity in the potential use of e-fuel in combustion vehicles after 2035.

So why is this legislation important for Europe?

According to the EU, the 2035 deadline is essential because new cars have an average lifespan of 15 years. A later prohibition would prevent the EU from achieving net zero emissions by 2050, the worldwide milestone experts believe would stop catastrophic climate change.

The new plan is still in the air, and the final vote may not take place until 2024. However, even if the EU parliament approves the use of e-fuel following the 2035 ICE ban, the technology will still need to advance to provide a competitive alternative to gas and diesel.

Furthermore, it is difficult to imagine many automakers investing in R&D for this technology, considering that many have already started to completely embrace battery-electric vehicle (BEV) models as the new standard for transportation.

Road freight operators, for instance, are experimenting with electric trucks and dedicating more resources to the electrification their fleet. One example is the latest news of DB Schenker’s plan to add 150 Volta Trucks to its fleet by end of 2023.

Source: Transport Intelligence, 14th March 2023

Author: Marta Chiriatti

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