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De facto ban on combustion engines: fuel industry hopes for correction by EU Council of Ministers

The EU Parliament's decision to impose a de facto ban on new registrations of internal combustion vehicles from 2035 has met with widespread rejection from both the automaker and fuel industries. In addition to criticism from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), for example, which considers such long-term regulation premature in view of numerous factors that are hardly foreseeable and can hardly be influenced, as they point out, advocates of synthetic fuels in particular see them as being completely marginalized alongside electromobility by the plenary decision. "Above all, the decision not to count CO2-neutral e-fuels in the context of CO2 fleet regulation cannot be objectively justified," says, for example, the Uniti Federal Association of Medium-Sized Mineral Oil Companies.

"With its vote against e-fuels, the EU Parliament is preventing the stock of around 48 million combustion engine cars in Germany alone from being included in efforts to achieve CO2 neutrality," criticized Uniti CEO Elmar Kühn, who stresses that "there would no longer be any factually justifiable, climate policy basis for a general ban on combustion engines with the use of e-fuels." He points out that if policymakers focus unilaterally on electromobility, "in the future, the transport sector will compete strongly with industry and private households, for example, for the inadequately available green electricity in Germany," "which will drive up the prices for it," says Kühn. Driving a car would "in the medium and long term, only top earners who can afford expensive e-cars and have the option of charging at home via their own PV system" would be able to afford it.

In light of the decision, the Uniti CEO is also concerned about the future of the local business location. "E-cars and their batteries are not the core competence of our domestic companies; other players in the world are ahead in this field," Kühn said. In addition, there is a risk of new dependencies if the focus is solely on e-mobility, he added. "We are primarily becoming dependent on China for the raw materials needed for this," which will hardly export the rare earths it needs "if these comparatively technically simple products can also be manufactured there - and more cheaply, too."

Kühn is still pinning his hopes on the EU Council of Ministers, which will soon discuss the "Fit for 55" package. Especially in Southern and Eastern Europe, e-mobility will continue to play no role "for cost reasons alone," Kühn is convinced. "I hope especially the representatives of these EU member states support a correction of the decisions of the EU Parliament."

On Wednesday, the European Parliament had voted by a majority in favor of the revised CO2 emission standards for new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles that are part of the EU Commission's "Fit for 55 in 2030" package. In the next step of negotiations with member states, MEPs thus support the EU Commission's proposal to achieve "zero-emission mobility in road transport" or an EU-wide fleet target to reduce emissions from new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles "by 100 percent compared to 2021" by 2035. The interim targets for 2030 are 55 percent for cars and 50 percent for vans.

Article by Dominik Heuel
Article by Dominik Heuel