The European Union has announced that it wants to ban the sale from 2035 of cars with CO2 emissions above zero, i.e. petrol, diesel, LPG, methane, and all hybrid variants that are acting as a sort of “buffer” between the internal combustion engines and the new electric powertrains.
Before this decision can officially become law, it needs the approval of the European Parliament and individual governments; this is a legislative process that will take at least a couple of years and could include both derogations and amendments. While waiting for official validation, numerous players on the scene have expressed rather conflicting opinions.
Anfia, the association of the Italian automotive industry, has announced that the strategy decided by Europe would not take into account the effort required: the risk, according to Anfia, is that of embarking on a path that is too difficult to sustain, including economically. It would be an ideological choice without any flexibility mechanism, such as the cancellation of all those hybrid vehicles that today allow a partial ecological transition. Moreover, not all manufacturers would be able to take this big step and would risk disappearing.
Acea, on the other hand, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, endorses the EU’s words, albeit with some minor reservations. While it remains in favor of achieving climate neutrality by 2050, it also believes that several efforts are still needed to provide an adequate infrastructure to support the drivers of today and tomorrow. BMW CEO Oliver Zipse also agrees, confirming the need for a more extensive charging network in the short term.
Germany’s finance minister, Olaf Scholz, and environment minister, Svenja Schulze, pointed out that the new strategy represents the challenge of the century to avoid new measures against climate change. Germany is in favor of such measures without reservation; the ecological transition will improve the lives of citizens and open up new job opportunities.
The chorus of European environmental associations is almost unanimous in its opinion that the plan is not too ambitious; Greenpeace itself thinks that the target is still too low, while Transport & Environment fears that the long wait until 2035 could further complicate the health of the planet. Both associations are therefore clamoring for a push in this direction and an early abolition of the sale of cars with CO2 emissions above zero.
In Italy, Minister Cingolani has declared on several occasions that the ecological transition could be “a bloodbath”. In a recent interview with La Stampa, the Minister suggested that the change and the impact it would have on the country’s economy would mean that radical changes would have to be made at a price not within everyone’s reach. At the moment, for Cingolani, the idea of forcing people to buy an electric car seems complicated, especially at the prices the market demands. According to the politician, maneuvers are needed to reduce the cost of access, such as new incentives and a general leveling of prices.
But what will happen in 15 years? If things stay as they are, we will no longer be able to buy new petrol- or diesel-powered vehicles, only electric or hydrogen-powered ones. However, the sale of second-hand vehicles will remain free, and circulation will be limited from country to country. The second-hand market could therefore undergo a major revaluation, especially for all those models that will not be “replicated” in any way with the advance of electric vehicles.
Will we find endothermic cars in dealerships until the last moment? It is hard to say, especially if we consider that most manufacturers began their ecological transition some time ago. Speaking of large groups, Stellantis has been offering electric solutions for several months, while Volkswagen has declared that half of its range will be battery-powered from 2030. Mercedes, too, recently indicated that 2030 would be the last of the combustion cars. These are just a few examples, but at the moment the market seems to be aligned in defining 2030 as the last useful year. Only Toyota has declared that it does not intend to switch completely to electric power but to consider hydrogen as well (as it has been doing for some years now with the famous Mirai).
Of course, manufacturers outside Europe will continue to produce and sell more polluting cars, so it is difficult to say if and when we will see a complete transition.
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