On Tuesday, EU energy ministers reached a consensus on a new standard, which will restrict the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles after 2035. The updated standard also accommodates an exception for ICEs running on synthetic fuels, a potential that companies like Porsche have expressed confidence in.
Initially, Germany, along with several other countries such as the Czech Republic, had rejected the negotiated form of the standard in early March. Berlin had called for assurances that post-2035, ICEs powered by synthetic fuels would still be permitted, as reported by Reuters.
Over the weekend, the European Commission reached an agreement with Germany, resolving the disagreement surrounding the future of synthetic fuels. On Tuesday, a majority of the ministers endorsed the revised proposal. Only Poland opposed the new standard, while Italy, Romania, and Bulgaria abstained from voting.
As a result of this decision, European legislation will mandate that all new cars sold from 2035 onwards must produce zero carbon dioxide emissions.
While the ministers have greenlit the regulation, the process is not yet complete. The European Commission must now develop a document outlining the approach to achieve the established goal.
Der Weg ist frei: Europa bleibt technologieneutral. Fahrzeuge mit Verbrennungsmotor können auch nach 2035 neu zugelassen werden, wenn sie ausschließlich CO2-neutrale Kraftstoffe tanken. 1|2— Volker Wissing (@Wissing) March 25, 2023
According to analyses, transport in the European Union accounts for about a quarter of the overall produced emissions. The average lifespan of new cars is set at fifteen years, and therefore, according to European officials, the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars should end in 2035 at the latest. Otherwise, the European bloc will most likely not be able to fulfill its obligations regarding the achievement of climate neutrality by 2050 .
Home to major automotive manufacturers such as the Volkswagen Group and BMW, Germany has been a leading advocate for the European Commission to permit the use of combustion engines powered by climate-neutral fuels or e-fuels beyond 2035.
Earlier this year, Michael Theurer, Germany’s state secretary for transport, urged the Commission to present a proposal outlining the utilization and organization of e-fuels or combustion engines running on climate-neutral fuels. He acknowledged that electric vehicles are the future but emphasized the need to support other zero-emissions technologies as well.
E-fuels are created using materials that capture CO2 emissions, theoretically offsetting the carbon produced during combustion. These fuels are being developed to enable the continued use of modified combustion engines.