The plans were first mooted last summer, alongside an interim plan to reduce CO2 emissions from vehicles by 55 per cent compared to 2021 levels by 2030. Unfortunately, the 2030 proposals were voted against, meaning the existing targets for carmakers remain in place, giving them a respite from more stringent targets.
On the plus side, counter-proposals to relax the rules and allow emissions-producing cars to continue to be produced were also voted down.
If you’re wondering why 2035 has been chosen, it’s because lawmakers assume an on-the-road lifespan of a car to be between 10 and 15 years. The EU has committed to net zero by 2050, hence 2035 is the last year that it could halt the sale of new petrol and diesel cars to hit its target based on its own assumptions.
Obviously, the reality of the situation is that fossil fuel-powered cars will continue to be used for many years after the ban unless fuel sales themselves were outlawed. But given that around 27 per cent of the EU’s total emissions come from road transport, banning any new CO2 producing cars will make an enormous dent.
According to Jan Huitema, who has led on these policy changes: “With CO2 standards, we create clarity for the car industry and stimulate innovation and investments for car manufacturers.”
Fortunately, many of Europe’s biggest carmakers are ahead of the game. Most of the 14 brands under the Stellantis umbrella – which includes Vauxhall/Opel, Citroen and Peugeot – will be EV-only by 2030. VW will have achieved this goal by 2035, and many others are aiming to achieve that goal in between. This is being driven, in part, by the fact that many markets within the EU, as well as third countries like the UK are aiming for a 2030 ban on non-electrified vehicles and 2035 date to go EV-only.
There’s also support coming from manufacturers themselves for the 2035 ban. Ford will be an all-electric carmaker by 2035 in Europe and chair Stuart Rowley has stated: “At Ford in Europe, we believe that freedom of movement goes hand-in-hand with caring for our planet and each other. That’s why we are targeting all Ford vehicles to be zero emission by 2035. To successfully achieve this, EU policymakers must also establish mandatory national targets for a seamless electric charging infrastructure that lives up to the growing demand for electric vehicles.”
Volvo, which will be EV-only by 2030, has also thrown its weight behind the plan, with Chief Executive Jim Rowan saying: “This [going EV-only] would not only be in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement, which require 100 per cent zero tailpipe emission vehicle sales in Europe by 2035, but it’s just the right thing to do.”
The next step for the EU’s proposals is to go before the full European Parliament. We will report on what happens as soon as we know.
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