Europe ICE Car Ban Irks Manufacturers, Inspires Environmentalists.
“Banning ICE is the wrong thing to do if we’re trying to decarbonize quickly”
Carmakers protested the proposed acceleration of the European ban on the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) powered cars to 2035, while green groups were ecstatic.
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) said the proposal announced Wednesday by the European Parliament toughened already harsh rules to force the industry to go all-electric and would be impossible without massive spending on the charging network.
The proposals will be discussed by European Ministers at a meeting June 28 and could still be watered down.
The previous target for carbon neutrality was 2050.
Other critics of the proposal, including Kelly Senecal, author of “Racing Toward Zero – The Untold Story of Driving Green” with Felix Leach, have already said the EU’s premature drive to kill ICE cars will waste valuable and proven resources.
“Banning internal combustion engines (ICE) is the wrong thing to do if we’re trying to decarbonize quickly,” Senecal said in a posting on LinkedIn. It will also have a detrimental effect on reaching climate goals, he said.
Brussels-based green lobby group Transport & Environment Green lobby welcomed the news, saying it would be crucial in the fight against climate change.
“The European Parliament has voted to set a 2035 deadline for zero-emissions cars and vans – a significant step forward for climate action, air quality and the affordability of electric vehicles,” T&E said.
“The deadline means the last fossil fuel cars will be sold by 2035, giving us a fighting chance of averting runaway climate change. Phasing out combustion engines is also a historic opportunity to help end our oil dependence and make us safer from despots. And it gives the certainty the car industry needs to ramp up production of electric vehicles, which will drive down prices for drivers,” T&E’s Clean Vehicles Manager Alex Keynes said in a statement.
ACEA (the association’s acronym in French) liked the fact the Parliament left unchanged the already rigorous tightening of rules up to 2030. But it was concerned about the 2035 target
“But given the volatility and uncertainty we are experiencing globally day-by-day, any long-term regulation going beyond this decade is premature at this early stage. Instead, a transparent review is needed halfway in order to define post-2030 targets.”
“Such a review will first of all have to evaluate whether the deployment of charging infrastructure and the availability of raw materials for battery production will be able to match the continued steep ramp-up of battery-electric vehicles at that point in time,” Zipse said
ACEA has previously complained about the fact politicians were mandating winning technologies, rather than letting various technologies – hybrids, fuel cells – fight the battle directly with consumers.
Industry leaders like Carlos Tavares, CEO of Stellantis, have criticized the E.U.’s current drive to all-electric, where CO2 rules are tightened in 2025 and again in 2030 to a point where ICE vehicles would find it almost impossible to compete on price. Tavares said this posed the problem that citizens on average incomes would be forced out of cars and on to public transport, and would endanger European manufacturers’ ability to compete in this sector, endangering their future.
“The accelerated emissions reduction and de-facto ban on ICE-cars from 2035 on will benefit (manufacturers) that already have an accelerated timeline for their EV transition,” said Bernstein analyst Daniel Roeska.
“Additionally, we see premium (manufacturers) better positioned to manage profit headwinds from the transition, given the economics of margin parity between ICE and EV cars. We would expect (manufacturers) that have exhibited a more cautious stance on EV adoption to revisit their plans and consider an acceleration of their electrification strategies,” he said.
Roeska didn’t name any manufacturers, but Volkswagen is seen as perhaps the leader in electrification after Tesla, while Stellantis has been less committed to change.
But Senecal reckoned the proposal would do huge damage to the industry and not help the fight against climate change
“What we need to speed up is decarbonization. The fastest way to do that is with a mix of technologies, including electric cars, hybrids, and renewable fuels,” Senecal said.
And yet, here in the States, a senior executive at the local utility let it slip in conversation that, “there’s not enough copper in the world” available to build the charging infrastructure necessary to meet, as he termed it, “legislated demand.”