The internal combustion engine disappears, Germany has not given up yet

The internal combustion engine disappears, Germany has not given up yet


NOS News

  • Charlotte Waaijers

    German writer

  • Charlotte Waaijers

    German writer

Can new cars with gasoline and diesel engines be sold in the European Union after 2035? The European Union’s environment ministers decided earlier this week that there would be a ban, but Germany still insists on such discrimination. Much to the embarrassment of environmental organizations.

Shortly before the decision was made, it was not yet clear what role German German Minister of Environment Steffi Lemke had been given by his government in consultation with his European counterparts. Although he himself had already said on TV this morning that he would volunteer to ban, he was called back via Twitter shortly afterwards by Finance Minister Christian Lindner.

The ruling Lindner FDP liberal party wants discrimination against ‘CO2-free fuel’ combustion engines. He is referring to the so-called e-fuels, synthetic fuels that are generated by large amounts of electricity, mainly from water and CO2, and which can be suitable for gasoline and diesel engines. The combustion of these substances still produces CO2, but because it is considered first for the production of this substance, the end result is neutral in this regard.

It was a compromise: the government accepts EU sanctions, but opposes discrimination. That comes more or less: The European Commission promises that it will come up with a discriminatory proposal for alternative fuel vehicles. But the promise of a proposal has not yet been guaranteed.

Still, the FDP is celebrating as a victory. “The ban on combustion engines is not ready,” delighted FDP traffic minister Volker Wissing. He believes it is important that the government does not devote itself fully to electric vehicles and excludes other technologies.

Car manufacturers are divided

The party is receiving support from the industry. For example, the German carmaker BMW told the DPA news agency that it would be a mistake to “put all our eggs in one basket at this time”.

Furthermore, the German Vehicle Association VDA thinks that electric vehicles alone are practically impossible. The power grid is not yet set for this.

There are still some voices from the industry. Herbert Diess, boss of the Volkswagen Group, which also includes Seat, Audi and Skoda, does not seem to be worried about banning new combustion engines in Europe. “It could come, we are the ones who are well prepared,” he said at a staff meeting, according to Der Spiegel’s weekly. The company is actively involved in the development of electric vehicles, and in addition generates about 40 percent of its sales in China.

The chairman of the VW work council thinks that combustion engines can no longer be saved by e-fuels. “This train has left the station for a long time. Politically, socially, and in our commercial strategy.”

And the Mercedes-Benz also appears on board. On the day the EU ministers made their decision, the company issued a statement saying it was preparing to have full electricity by 2030, followed by an additional “where the market allows”.

‘Misleading energy’

According to environmental organizations, oil-free CO2 is an artificial solution. Transport and Environment states that more energy is needed to produce them than electric vehicles would use. The combustion would also emit the same amount of nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide and ammonia than the combustion of gasoline E10.

“Electronic fuel utopia is delaying the future reform of the automotive industry, misleading consumers and applying brakes in climate protection,” said Martin Kaiser, director of Greenpeace Germany. He calls it annoying that the EU still has to deal with this.

Whether the combustion engine will still be stored with alternative fuel after 2035 is still far from certain. The European Parliament has not yet voted on the plan and unless possible; adjustments can still be made. Then there should be a proposal for alternative fuels, and then that proposal must also be approved.