It is now official: the sale of thermal cars will be prohibited in Europe from 2035. The European Parliament in fact decided on Wednesday June 8 that only cars and vans under 3.5 t that do not emit gas at greenhouse gas exhaust could be marketed after this date. A somewhat utopian goal that can only be achieved in practice by focusing on all-electric.
The current decision still has to be negotiated with the various EU countries, but Brussels intends to ban the marketing of new petrol, diesel or even hybrid cars. Many proposals, such as the integration of e-Fuels, had been made in the reduction targets, but they were rejected on the grounds that “synthetic fuels consume too much electricity during their production”.
For Yves Carra, spokesperson for the Automobile Club Association (ACA), 100% electric is not the solution and its non-polluting nature is a myth: “With the electric car, the objective is to tell ourselves that we will gain in CO2 emissions, in pollution. We agree, we are all moving towards decarbonization, the manufacturers have understood this. But we are imposing on them technology. The clean electric car is a lie. It does not exist. You have to produce electricity, produce the car and recycle it. It generates a lot of pollution. The car, mobility, it will never be 100% carbon-free. That’s not true”he explains on RMC.
About a quarter of CO2 emissions in the EU come from the transport sector, including 12% from passenger cars. According to the objective now adopted, the annual emissions of new vehicles must, from 2030, be 55% lower than those of 2021. For 2035, the quota is even 100% compared to 2021. This means that at From that date, all newly registered cars will have to be emissions-free – something that EU directives say can only be achieved with electric cars or vehicles that can be powered by hydrogen.
And it is this paradigm that strains relations between manufacturers and MEPs. If everyone agrees on the need to reduce the carbon footprint, it is the obligation of technology that scandalizes some. For the ADAC, equivalent of the Automobile Club in Germany, “electromobility alone will not make it possible to achieve the ambitious climate protection objectives in the field of transport. This is why it would have been necessary to also open up a perspective for the combustion engine whose fuel is neutral for the climate.”
Indeed, the problem is not so much with the internal combustion engine as with what is put into it to create combustion. For Yves Cara, of the ACA, “We know how to make non-carbonated liquid fuel. Even E85 is a solution with only 15% petroleum in it. Also, a hydrogen thermal engine works perfectly by changing only the injectors. All the solutions will be good for decarbonizing, but not all electric, that’s not true.”
In order to achieve the objectives set, the MEPs’ proposal provides for the massive development of the charging infrastructure. Thus, refueling and recharging capacities will be installed at regular intervals along major highways – it will be possible to recharge electric vehicles every 60 kilometers, and a hydrogen filling station will be installed every 150 kilometers.
On the industry side, a whole chain of production, sale and use will have to be rethought. 243 million vehicles are currently registered in the EU and their average age is 11.5 years. 9.9 million passenger cars were sold in the EU last year. 25% of all cars produced in the world come from the European Union, of which 47.5% are gasoline-powered and 24.5% use alternative fuels (PHEV, HEV and EV). In addition, 14.6 million Europeans work in the automotive industry, or 6.7% of jobs in the EU, spread across 226 vehicle assembly and production plants.
the green deal of the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen will therefore have serious consequences for the automotive industry and drivers, even if two aspects remain to be assessed: the reaction of governments to this directive and the way in which the charging network will develop. We know, for example, that France intends to promote hybrid engines beyond 2035. In addition, if the ban on the sale of new thermal vehicles seems to have been recorded, thermal cars already in circulation will still be authorized to drive at least until 2050. As for the charging network, major efforts will have to be made: France accuses a significant delay, with only 60,000 charging points deployed against 100,000 promised at the end of 2021.