The traffic light coalition gives gas … forgiveness: electricity. And increases the speed of the switch to e-mobility. The phasing out of combustion engines by 2035 has long since been decided, but the EU Parliament does not seem to be satisfied with this. According to numerous media reports, even stricter interim targets are now being demanded. As a result, owners of combustion vehicles could soon be even more financially challenged. Also: what to do with all the non-electric cars? After all, a total of over 48 million in number. And what about e-fuels?
The European Commission has today adopted a package of proposals to shape EU policies on climate, energy, land use, transport and tax to cut net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels be able. This reduction in emissions over the coming decade is a crucial step on Europe’s path to becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050 and making Europe’s Green Deal a reality. Addressing increasing emissions from road transport requires a combination of measures that complement emissions trading. Stricter CO2 emission standards for cars and light commercial vehicles will accelerate the transition to zero-emission mobility, as average annual emissions from new vehicles must be 55 percent lower by 2030 and 100 percent lower by 2035 than in 2021. As a result, all new cars registered from 2035 will be emission-free. To enable vehicles to be charged or refueled on a reliable EU-wide network, the revised Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation requires Member States to increase charging capacity in line with sales volumes of zero-emission vehicles and to install refueling and recharging stations at regular intervals along major roads installed every 60 km for charging electric vehicles and every 150 km for hydrogen refuelling.
Stricter intermediate goals are imminent?
So far so good. Now, however, it is the turn of the European Parliament, which has to adopt the Commission’s proposal together with the Council of Ministers, the body of the EU states – and that could tighten the requirements noticeably again. At least that’s what Dutch right-wing liberal Jan Huitema is aiming for. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reports that the so-called rapporteur only recently presented his proposed changes to the Commission’s proposal. It is hardly surprising that these should once again exceed the actual goals. Huitema would like to raise the target for 2030 from 55 percent to even 75 percent. In addition, the manufacturers should reduce the average emissions of their new cars by 25 percent by 2025 and by 45 percent by 2027, reports the FAZ. However, there should be further tightening not only for conventional cars, but also for small vans.
In addition, Huitema has confirmed that new cars should no longer emit CO2 from 2035. The politician wants to rule out that vehicles can be operated with so-called e-fuels. E-fuels are synthetic biofuels that can be produced from hydrogen and other gases using green electricity. In theory, today’s petrol and diesel cars could also be almost climate-neutral. However, the production is sometimes quite complex and expensive. However, the use could be worthwhile, especially for premium and sports car manufacturers. For example, Porsche, in cooperation with Siemens, is driving the development and mass production of e-fuels and has already started building a commercial plant north of Punta Arenas in Chilean Patagonia. First of all, it is a pilot plant, which in 2022 will have around 130.000 liters of eFuels. The capacity is then to be expanded in two stages to around 55 million liters of eFuels by 2024 and to around 550 million liters of eFuels by 2026.
It is unclear to what extent the European Parliament will comply with Huitema’s proposals. According to the FAZ, the traffic policy spokesman for the CDU and CSU MPs, Jens Giesecke, criticized the Huitema project. He was of the opinion that a so-called bidding war would benefit neither consumers, manufacturers and workers nor the environment. Hundreds of thousands of jobs would also be at stake. And we also see this fear as a justified reaction..
The next problem: where do the disused burners go?
For the time being, Germany does not need to be afraid of new standards for nitrogen oxide emissions. Because the Federal Republic recently prevailed in the dispute over limit values for cars of the Euro 6 emission standard before the ECJ. According to Automobilwoche.de, the court found that the EU Commission had allegedly wrongly interpreted these limit values less strictly when introducing measurements in real driving operations (real drive emissions – RDE). The laboratory values were significantly lower than those that occur in real driving. In contrast, the cities of Madrid, Paris and Brussels had successfully sued the EU court. However, the ECJ has now ruled that the cities were not entitled to take legal action because the corresponding regulation does not directly affect them.
Ultimately, this will hardly have any impact on future regulations because, according to the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), car manufacturers are already well below the current Euro 6 value with emissions of 40 grams per kilometer. The groups are clearly focusing on the Euro 7 standard, for which the EU Commission would like to present a specific proposal this spring. Then there are stricter requirements for the emission of pollutants such as CO2, NOx or particulate matter. According to the FAZ, the VDA argues: “In view of the ongoing switch to electric cars, it makes little sense to prescribe new, much stricter limit values for combustion cars, because extremely high investments are necessary to save the last percent of pollutants.”.
It remains to be seen whether the political course is the right one. Above all, it is questionable what will happen to all the disused vehicles in the event of an imminent ban on combustion engines – after all, there are 48 million in this country alone! Statistically, most cars go out through leasing programs, according to the taz.de, some providers are now even calculating a higher risk premium for combustion engines in the price calculation because the remarketing of these cars is likely to become more difficult. And to promote low-emission cars, older cars are being sorted out en masse and exported abroad, especially in Africa. According to the Federal Statistical Office, there are around half a million every year – and the trend is rising. Exporting more and more combustion engines that have been phased out in this country to poorer countries is a huge problem, he says. However, stopping the export of used cars, as required by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), is not a solution. like taz.de continues, even imported new cars in Africa would often mutate into air pollution in a short time. In addition, the fuel quality on site is often second-rate and there is a lack of solid maintenance in specialist workshops and mandatory exhaust gas tests. This is an additional security risk. There, however, people are happy about the still good and cheap vehicles. For this reason alone, the demand for used cars from Germany will not drop anytime soon. That is probably one of the downsides of electromobility..
Sources: www.etc.Europe.eu, taz.en, mirror.de, southern German.de, faz.de, VDA.de, European Court of Justice (ECJ)
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