EU plan for new electric-only vehicles by 2035 ‘unprecedented’

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After months of negotiations, the European Union reached a political agreement this week to effectively ban new non-electric cars from 2035.

The agreement, reached at 9 p.m. in Brussels on Thursday and announced by the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament, is equivalent to a target of 100% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions for new cars and vans by 2035.

“This agreement will pave the way for a modern and competitive automotive industry in the EU. The world is changing and we must stay at the forefront of innovation,” said Jozef Sikela, Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic, who holds the rotating chairmanship of the council, in a statement.

The legislation still needs to be officially approved to become law in the EU, one of the biggest automotive markets and home to some of the biggest manufacturers. However, approval by the Council and the European Parliament is awaited, with only minor changes.

Many climate change campaigners, who hoped other governments would follow in the EU’s footsteps by effectively banning new petrol and diesel vehicles, welcomed the news.

“The days of the carbon-spitting, polluting combustion engine are finally numbered,” Julia Poliscanova, senior director of electric vehicles and mobility at the Brussels-based Transport & Environment campaign group. “It’s been 125 years since Rudolf Diesel revolutionized engine efficiency, but lawmakers have decided that the next chapter will be written by the cleaner, better electric vehicle.”

Even so, Poliscanova and other experts worried that the measures, while a step towards sustainable transport, were still too slow. Manufacturers that produce smaller fleets of less than 10,000 cars or 22,000 vans per year should have lower targets, at least initially.

This means that niche manufacturers, including premium brands such as Lamborghini and Ferrari, will have more leeway on an intermediate target for 2030, although they should eventually reach the final target by 2035.

The European Automobile Manufacturers Association cautiously welcomed the move, calling it “far-reaching” and “unprecedented”. But Oliver Zipse, chairman of the group, said he also needed to see how the EU would help the industry in the transition, especially with renewable energy sources, public charging infrastructure and access to materials. raw.

“Make no mistake, the European car industry is up to the challenge of delivering these zero-emission cars and vans,” said Zipse, who is also chief executive of German car giant BMW. “However, we now want the essential framework conditions to achieve this goal to be reflected in EU policies.”

Some conservative critics of the legislation have suggested that a move to all-electric vehicles would increase the cost of new cars in Europe. The result, said Jens Gieseke, a German negotiator for the European People’s Party, is that the streets will be filled with old cars like in the communist-ruled capital of Cuba.

“With today’s agreement, a ‘Havana effect’ becomes more realistic. After 2035, our streets could become full of old cars, as new cars are either unavailable or unaffordable,” Gieseke said. in a press release.

The European People’s Party and others have argued that while emissions must be reduced, the legislation is too blunt an instrument and would simply result in Chinese and American manufacturers with more flexibility taking business in Europe.

But supporters of the measure said companies would have plenty of time to make the transition, with an interim target of cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 55% by 2030 from 2021 levels for cars, and a 50% reduction for vans.

“With these goals, we are creating clarity for the automotive industry and stimulating innovation and investment for car manufacturers,” Jan Huitema, a Dutch politician and European Parliament chief negotiator, said in a statement.

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