In February, the European parliament voted to approve a new law banning the sale sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2035, in an effort to reach its climate neutrality goal by 2050. From 2035, all new cars coming to the market cannot emit any CO2, which means not even hybrid cars could be sold. The measure does not impact already existing cars and manufactured and sold cars up until 2034.
Cars currently account for around 15% of all CO2 emissions in the EU but, Is this really practicable, even possible? Is this measure fair with all the countries members and does it take into account the different economies and capabilities? How is it going to impact the car makers industry in Europe?
The reality is that, while in the Netherlands you can find a charging station for your car quite easily and pretty much in every small city, in the southern and eastern countries you won’t find any but for the biggest cities and capitals. In order to comply with the new regulation, countries still recovering from past crisis and with an existing debt, would need to undertake nationwide projects to build a whole new network, not to talk about the fact that citizens will not be able to afford the prices of these cars, in countries where, besides, the public transport networks leave much to be desired. Electric vehicles are still nowadays much more expensive than petrol cars, and that makes them prohibitive for most people in these countries. Just in Spain, Portugal and Italy, under ten percent of new cars sold in 2022 were plug-in vehicles, and not even 4% battery-electric vehicles.
Five countries in the EU, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Poland, Czech Republic and Romania, are circulating a paper to delay the measure five more years, stating that “Adequate and tailored transition periods need to be established”. Even Germany, whose vote has a considerable weight on the final decision, has expressed hesitations and asked for changes in the proposal to exclude e-fuels powered cars from the ban.
Cars manufactures, including BMW, Ford, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover and McLaren have already predicted a plunge in sales, even before 2035, and jobs at risk from accelerating the transition to electric vehicles, despite their efforts to accelerate its plans to electrify their products.
Italy is home to big car brands like Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari, which rely heavily on combustion engine vehicles. Around 270,000 people are directly or indirectly employed by the automotive industry in the country. Italian Minister for Transport Matteo Salvini called the new law economic suicide for the EU.
A transition to electric vehicles is necessary, even inevitable, as socio-cultural changes impact customers’ buying preferences and trends. Nevertheless, repercussions of accelerating the change, pushing the industry and individuals, when jobs and domestic economies of many are at stake, are still to be seen since neither the industry nor the general public are ready for such a dramatic shift.