You may not know it if you rely solely on American media, but there is a growing revolt across much of Europe against Net Zero mandates in general and electric vehicle mandates in particular.
It seems that, led by luxury carmakers, the future may be bright for the venerable internal combustion engine if new synthetic fuels technologies can produce an affordable replacement for gasoline and diesel fuels.
The revolt had been brewing ever since Europe got a wakeup call with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that upset the Net Zero applecart and led even Germany to reopen coal-fired power plants. Still, the EU last November had struck a provisional deal on a new vehicle emissions law that would have banned the sale of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by 2035.
Two months later, though, the new Meloni government in Italy began to raise objections. The forced transition to EVs has already hit the Italian auto industry with job cuts, leading Transport Minister Matteo Salvini to argue that it makes no sense to put thousands of jobs at risk when there are plenty of reasons to keep ICE vehicles on the road with a carbon-neutral fuel.
Italy’s balking opened the door for German Finance Minister Christian Lindner to switch his government’s position to demand an exception for hydrogen-derived, carbon-neutral synthetic e-fuels (produced by electrolysis with added carbon) that can power ICE vehicles. Porsche, which has invested $75 million in a pilot plant to make e-fuels, and Ferrari could preserve their rich heritage and iconic models and still comply with zero-emissions requirements with e-fuels.
German Transport Minister Volker Wissing agreed, stating that, "We need e-fuels as there is no alternative if we want to operate our vehicle fleet in a climate-neutral way. Whoever is serious about climate-neutral mobility must keep all technological options open and also use them. I don't understand this fight against the car and why people want to ban some technologies."
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has long objected to the EU ban and had pledged to do “anything” to stop the “pseudo-green idea by rich countries and bureaucrats from Brussels” to ban gasoline and diesel engines. Polish families, he contended, cannot afford these expensive vehicles, and an ICE ban would cause Polish firms producing car components for well-known global brands to suffer irreparable harm.
As by simply abstaining from a final vote on the hard ICE vehicle ban, Germany could have killed the proposed EU legislation, the European Commission agreed to draft a compromise to allow the sale of ICE vehicles capable of running on e-fuels after 2035. Environmental groups objected, claiming that – because gasoline and diesel will still be available to power older vehicles – owners of e-fuel capable vehicles will cheat and fill up with gasoline. ... Continue reading >>>