The European Union put the final nail of the coffin for gas- and diesel-powered vehicle sales, proposing a complete ban starting in 2035.
The move came as part of a much larger package of plans — dubbed “Fit for 55” — to reduce carbon emissions from vehicles on the continent by 55% between now and 2030. The current target is 37.5% by the end of the decade. The same push includes a 100% reduction by 2035. To be clear, these are proposals, not actual mandates — yet.
“This is the sort of ambition we’ve been waiting to see from the EU, where it’s been lacking in recent years,” Helen Clarkson, chief executive of the Climate Group, a non-profit group that works with business and government to tackle climate change, told Reuters.
“The science tells us we need to halve emissions by 2030, so for road transport it’s simple – get rid of the internal combustion engine.”
Unsurprisingly, ACEA, the European auto industry trade group, criticized the tougher proposals, saying the complete elimination of internal combustion-powered vehicles by 2035 was overkill. It noted that ACEA members support the push for carbon neutrality by 2050, but the proposed new standards essentially wipe out billions invested by automakers with that target in mind.
EU can want, but continent is not ready
“Ambitious climate targets need a binding commitment from all parties involved. The European Commission today made very clear that the Green Deal can only be successful with mandatory targets for the ramp-up of charging and refueling infrastructure in all member states,” said Oliver Zipse, BMW CEO and ACEA president, in a statement.
The trade group noted the infrastructure is not — and will not — be in place to meet the new targets. Also, the demand for EVs doesn’t warrant a change in plans, Zipse noted.
“The current proposal for an even bigger cut in CO2 emissions by 2030 requires a massive further increase in market demand for electric vehicles in a short timeframe,” stated Zipse. “Without significantly increased efforts by all stakeholders – including member states and all involved sectors – the proposed target is simply not viable.”
Automakers have been announcing product plans focused on the shift toward electrified vehicles for several years. Much of those efforts center on the more lax targets, although some countries like Great Britain, Norway, Japan and Canada, have already implemented or are considering sales bans by 2035.
As a result, several automakers are already targeting earlier dates as the bogey for making a complete shift away. Volvo officials expect to be all electric by 2030, as does Bugatti. General Motors targets 2035 for its shift, but not all have done so, which is cause for alarm in some circles.
The pushback against the new targets was not a surprise for supporters, who accounted for that in the massive package of proposals. The group recommended legislation forcing EU countries to install public charging points on “major roads” in 37.3-mile intervals by 2025.
This, according to the Reuters report, would result in 3.5 million stations for light vehicles by 2030 with growth to 16.3 million by the time the mandate for carbon neutrality hits in 2050.
To ensure the shift happens by 2035, the proposals require an investment by the 27 countries in the bloc between $95 billion and $142 billion by 2040.
IHS Markit said in a report on Tuesday that if the EU raised its reduction targets to 50% by 2030, it would bring new fossil-fuel car sales across the bloc down basically zero, although overall registrations — which includes used vehicles — would still see ICE vehicles accounting for 48% of vehicles on the road.