Brussels is a step closer to the demise of diesel- and gas-powered cars in favour of electric cars.
At the end of October, the EU council and parliament reached a political agreement on legislation requiring all new cars and vans sold in the EU to be zero-emission by 2035, effectively prohibiting the sale of new petrol and diesel cars running on combustion engines. It’s the first element of the EU’s ‘Fit for 55’ package, a series of environmental measures, to be agreed on.
“Europe is embracing the shift to zero-emission mobility. European car makers are already proving they are ready to step up to the plate, with increasing and increasingly affordable electric cars coming to the market,” EU commissioner and climate chief Frans Timmermans said in a statement.
Since car manufacturers currently end up paying a carbon tax on combustion engines, the EU argues that electric cars will become cheaper than combustion engine cars, as electric vehicles aren’t subject to such a penalty.
Critics of the law—conservative lawmakers and car manufacturers—aren’t convinced.
Some fear that instead of leading to innovation and affordability in the car industry, the rules will simply make new cars out of reach financially for most Europeans leading to the “Havana Effect,” or the proliferation of a market for older cars.
“Today’s deal slammed shut the door to new technological developments and put all the eggs in one basket. This is a mistake,” Jens Gieseke MEP, the European People’s Party Group negotiator said in a statement. “With today’s agreement, a ‘Havana effect’ is becoming more realistic. After 2035, our streets might become full of vintage cars, because new cars are not available or not affordable.”
The agreed language includes one small loophole, a nod to the German car industry, to allow new vehicles “running exclusively on CO2-neutral fuels” to enter the market even beyond 2035. But MEPs are already splintering on the interpretation of the clause.
“This means ambulances, fire trucks, police cars, public fleets,” Sara Cerdas, a Portuguese MEP who participated in the negotiations with the council said in an interview with EURACTIV after the deal was reached.
By contrast, Pascal Canfin, a French MEP and chair of parliament’s environment committee, explained that the language was “very vague” and “brings nothing concrete” except for “stabilising the support of Germany” on the agreement, Euractiv reports.
Additionally, the draft legislation requires the Commission to make a proposal in 2023 to accelerate the deployment of zero-emission vehicles in the vehicle fleets of large companies, a provision aimed at speeding up the marketing of electronic vehicles, as well as their second-hand market, according to Canfin.
It also includes a revision in 2026 of the state of the electric car market and technology, and a new methodology for measuring the carbon emissions of vehicles over their life cycle, which the European Commission will be obliged to present by 2025.