Article written by Effective Media. The analysis and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only and not those of OPENLANE Europe.
The European Commission’s “Fit for 55” proposals to reduce CO2 emissions were confirmed by all 27 EU member states. The plans aim to integrate electric vehicles and include a de facto ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles as well as hybrids and plug-in hybrids (PHEV) from 2035. However, concessions appear to have been made regarding the development of e-fuels and targets for small manufacturers.
Transport is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in Europe. Reducing vehicle emissions through stricter targets will therefore contribute to the overall goals.
The EU aims for carbon neutrality by 2050, reducing CO2 emissions compared to 2021 by 15% by 2025, 55% by 2030 and 100% by 2035. The latter target implies that by 2035 only zero-emission vehicles, such as battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCEVs), will be available in the new car market.
The plans have raised some concerns among car manufacturers and national governments. Consequently, at the recent meeting of ministers and the Environment Council, some clauses were included in the final plans, hoping to reassure some parties. The most important clause is a new paragraph proposing research into the possibilities of synthetic fuels, or e-fuels. On this point, Germany lobbied hard, supported by member states that did not want to accept the proposals in Directive 2035 in their current form. The Commission therefore inserted Article 9a, which states that it will make a proposal for the registration of vehicles running exclusively on CO2-neutral fuels after 2035.
The vast majority of car manufacturers are likely to phase out internal combustion engine (ICE) technology as they invest billions in zero-emission cars. But the development of e-fuels could allow some of them to continue selling new ICE models in markets where the infrastructure is lacking. Moreover, sustainably produced e-fuels could benefit the used car market as drivers can continue to drive their vehicles, which in turn reduces their carbon footprint.
The updated plans also extend the exemptions to carmakers producing less than 10,000 vehicles a year. Currently, these manufacturers are exempt from the CO2 targets until 2030. The latest version of the “Fit for 55” document includes an amendment extending this deadline by five years.
This provision has been dubbed the “Ferrari amendment” by some, as it is of particular interest to sports car manufacturers and is seen as a concession to Italy, home to many sports car manufacturers who have built their reputation for performance and design there, founded on internal combustion engines. Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are known to be heavier than their petrol and diesel equivalents, although the performance of standard BEVs can be as impressive as some sports cars. The five-year extension in the agreement allows sports car brands to focus on developing light electric technology without being distracted by the 2025 and 2030 targets.
The proposals endorsed by ministers will be submitted to the European Parliament for discussion later this year. The entire “Fit for 55” package is expected to be approved by the end of 2022. At that point, car manufacturers can start planning their future model ranges and the phase-out of new petrol and diesel vehicles can begin.