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17 Mar 2022, 14:00
Sören Amelang

Germany supports EU proposal to end sales of combustion engine cars from 2035

Clean Energy Wire / Politico

Germany backs the EU proposal to phase out the sale of combustion engine cars from 2035, dropping its earlier insistence on an exception for cars using synthetic e-fuels made with renewable energies. "The new German government stands behind the EU Commission's draft and thus fully supports the end of the internal combustion engine for cars and vans in the EU from 2035," the environment ministry said on Twitter.

Germany has until now resisted a hard phase-out date for conventional cars, hoping the use of e-fuels could throw a lifeline to many companies in its large supplier industry that are focused on combustion engines. In its coalition agreement, the government had stated that "outside of the existing system of fleet limits, we advocate that only vehicles that can demonstrably only be fuelled with e-fuels can be newly registered" from 2035. But environment minister Steffi Lemke now said the government will no longer insist on this broad exception. "For vehicle types that are not covered by the CO2 standards — I always take the example of ambulances, or possibly tractors — you will possibly have to find solutions," Lemke told Politico. "But as far as the standards are concerned, that means new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles [with] internal combustion engines will no longer be allowed after 2035.”

A definite phase-out of the combustion engine is a set policy in an increasing number of countries, heralding unprecedented challenges for the car industry. Germany's powerful car industry lobby group VDA, and the transport ministry - which is now led by the pro-business Free Democrats - insisted on e-fuels as an alternative zero-emission technology to electric cars. In Germany's massive car supplier industry, many smaller companies especially depend on making parts for combustion engines that will no longer be needed in electric cars – for example spark plugs, fuel injection systems, exhaust systems, gearboxes or fuel tanks. Environmentalists have long argued that e-fuels are neither a realistic nor a truly sustainable alternative to e-cars because they are much more inefficient.

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