Europe bans gas-powered vehicle sales from 2035 in a move that could benefit China
After a 15-month debate that included a lot of negotiation with legacy German, French, or Italian automakers, legislation proposal for a ban on the sales of vehicles with internal combustion engine has been agreed on by European lawmakers. The ban on the sale of new gas-powered vehicles will start in 2035, just like California's recently enacted such mandate, and include both cars as well as commercial vans.
The new European mandate sounds the death knell of the internal combustion engine that has powered vehicles for almost 150 years there, and "sends a strong signal to industry and consumers: Europe is embracing the shift to zero-emission mobility," said the Green Deal initiative head Timmermans.
Following four hours of negotiations late on Thursday night, the European Commission managed to pass its proposal that essentially puts all the storied automakers from the Old Continent on a very aggressive path to change. They'd now have to completely overhaul their portfolio in the span of a little over a decade after fierce opposition by Italian performance sports car makers, or the French who wanted to continue selling plug-in hybrids after 2035 as well.
The hardest part has been to persuade Germany, whose bread-and-butter automotive industry employs millions, but the mandate has been surprisingly easy to prepare and vote on nonetheless. An internal argument among German political parties has brought the comparatively easy win for the European Commission, despite the huge challenges ahead.
Despite that the phase-out of gas-powered vehicles will be gradual, with set deadlines every step of the way, many argue that the timeline is too ambitious. Moreover, if only Europe sacrifices the internal combustion engine by 2035, this will do little to lower overall transportation emissions, as in countries outside the EU those may still proliferate after that date.
There is also the question of ultrafast charging infrastructure buildout for electric cars, or what to do with the millions of legacy vehicles that nobody will be willing to buy. Some critics also argue that the move may ultimately benefit China, which is much farther ahead than anybody with its EV and battery-making industry, and whose companies are already making inroads on the European market.