25 Sep 2020, 13:34
Sören Amelang

German car industry says California's 2035 conventional car ban is inappropriate

Clean Energy Wire / Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung / Wall Street Journal

The German car industry has criticised California's decision to ban sales of new conventional cars from 2035. Car industry association VDA said it supported the EU's plans to become climate-neutral by 2050, but called the ban inappropriate, saying governments should not prescribe technologies for achieving climate neutrality. "Such a ban does not automatically lead to more climate protection. What is decisive is that the energy sources are made climate-neutral. This applies to electricity as well as to hydrogen or alternative fuels," VDA president Hildegard Müller told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

California governor Gavin Newsom announced this week that his state will ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel vehicles, effective in 2035. Last week, the European Union signalled it would tighten its emission targets. China is also heavily pushing electric mobility. “Europe and China have woken up to the fact that [the combustion engine] is dead,” Arndt Ellinghorst, automotive analyst at Bernstein Research, told the Wall Street Journal. “Now, it looks like the U.S. is waking up.”

Commentators, as well as mobility and industry experts, said California's decision will have deep repercussions on Germany's iconic car industry. "No carmaker will be left untouched if a market of this size renounces combustion engines," wrote Michael Bauchmüller in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. "Other states will follow California's example, and other carmakers Tesla's. In Germany, on the other hand, politics and industry are clinging to the combustion engine as if there were no tomorrow. By doing so, they are causing damage to Germany as a business location that future generations will have to bear," he wrote. California's decision could be a gamechanger, wrote Andreas Hochfeld, head of clean mobility think tank Agora Verkehrswende, on Twitter. He added the ban "will hugely impact discussion on similar rules" in the framework of the EU's Green Deal, adding that Germany will have to watch out. Green MP Cem Özdemir, who chairs the parliament's transport committee, told the Tagesspiegel Germany urgently needed a transport policy that provides orientation: "In other words, one that says that the age of fossil fuels is really coming to an end and then also looks at how we can make the transformation of the important automotive industry a success for employees and the climate."

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