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  • David Broad

EU reverses 2035 petrol car ban

There may be light at the end of the tunnel for internal combustion engines beyond 2035, beyond low-volume and beyond hybridity, after a deal between Germany and European legislators has passed that allows the exemption of e-fuels from the ban of internal combustion engined cars coming into force in 2035.

E-fuels do not technically add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere when used in combustion engines, given they’re largely made of carbon removed from the atmosphere, making engines that burn them carbon neutral. This, as opposed to fossil fuels, which in fuel-burning powertrains – that’s ICE cars, trucks, shipping, aviation and beyond – release the carbon as a gas, previously locked in liquid form underground.

German and EU officials revealed a deal had been struck in statements on Saturday, with Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Tweeting: “We have found an agreement with Germany on the future use of eFuels in cars. We will work now on getting the CO2 standards for cars regulation adopted as soon as possible, and the Commission will follow up swiftly with the necessary legal steps to implement recital 11.”

“The way is clear: Europe remains technology-neutral,” German Transport Minister Volker Wissing Tweeted in relation to the agreement. “Vehicles with combustion engines can also be newly registered after 2035 if they only use CO2-neutral fuels. We secure opportunities for Europe by retaining important options for climate-neutral and affordable mobility.”

It’s no secret that the likes of Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini and more, have been pushing for such an amendment to mooted ICE bans. Much of these marque’s brand value and kudos has been built on a history of emotionally-stimulating internal combustion powerplants.

A silent future has, needless to say, proven a challenging prospect to brand marketers and car enthusiasts alike. Both will be relieved at the news, at the least implying a more secure future for past, present and future ICE power plants, beyond net-zero and beyond fossil fuels.

The significance beyond enthusiasts: motorists at large and the environmental agenda

There are theoretically much further-reaching positives that come from this. Legislative acknowledgement of e-fuels ought to increase appeal in terms of investment in the technology and therefore increase the likelihood of its proliferation. In short, it means we could be more likely to see a broadened infrastructure and affordable access to e-fuels in the future.

This means that while more of a future for ICE is secured, so is its past. ‘Clean’ e-fuels are now more likely to become affordable for everyone, beyond enthusiasts with ageing ICE classics, to motorists for whom an EV is too expensive or ill-suited to their lifestyle. At large, this is a big step towards a future where e-fuels clean up motoring’s past, as EVs look to clean up motoring’s future. The end result: all cars get cleaner.

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