EU to potentially set a 2035 effective ban on all new non-electric cars

The EU has announced proposals that would phase out the sale of all non-electric vehicles by 2035. It follows the day after the UK government set out its delivery plan to transition to zero emission cars and vans by the same year. Along the way, significant cuts in emissions will need to be made.

According to the announcement made by the European Commission, car makers will need to achieve a cut in CO2 emissions compared to today’s levels of 55 per cent by 2030. By 2035, that target increases to 100 per cent, essentially ending the sale of all petrol and diesel – i.e. non-electric – vehicles within the 27 remaining member states.

Any vehicle manufacturer still producing and selling emissions-producing cars after that date would face very heavy fines, so whilst it’s not quite a ban, it’s as good as. The proposals don’t allow low-volume manufacturers to get away with it, either, as any car maker building more than 1000 new cars per year would be subject to the rules.

These proposals show a certain change in attitude from the EU, perhaps recognising the need to decarbonise transport far more quickly than previously planned. Current rules require car makers to reduce CO2 emissions by 37.5 per cent by 2030 – the year during which many countries and car makers are looking to stop selling petrol and diesel models anyway.

The UK actually got the jump on the EU with this particular area of policy, announcing yesterday its roadmap to totally decarbonising transport here through its ‘Transitioning to zero emission cars and vans: 2035 delivery plan’.

This built on the plan to phase out sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 (albeit with hybrids exempt from that ban) and added making it illegal to sell any vehicle with tailpipe emissions. Not only will this apply to cars, it also applies to vans. Heavy goods and passenger vehicles aren’t included in this, but hydrogen is put forward as a solution in this area, as well as for private motor vehicles.

An electric vehicle infrastructure plan will be published this year detailing how better coverage and quality of charging and hydrogen refuelling will be achieved, but as a teaser we do know that grants for workplace and home charging will remain until at least 2024/25, regulation will be introduced to improve public charging and provision for new homes will be set out. Similarly, the delivery plan sets out the maintaining of some tax incentives for at least the next four years.

Sadly, the plug-in car grant is still only a commitment until 2022/23.

In the UK, the delivery plan points out that along the UK’s motorways and major A roads a driver is never more than 25 miles from a rapid charge point, and the EU’s proposals also touch on improving charging infrastructure. It adds a requirement that all 27 members install public charging on major routes at no more than 37 mile intervals for EVs, and 93 miles for hydrogen filling stations.   

Whilst the UK’s commitments are as good as set in stone, the EU’s proposals are still just that – proposals. They will need to be ratified by the European Parliament before becoming law and could potentially be watered down or face resistance from some member states. Either way, it will take time for them to be signed into law.

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