We’ll find a way to save the car’s engine – Politico

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In terms of the future of the internal combustion engine, Germany has once again made its own way.

The European Commission and Germany’s Transport Ministry announced an agreement on Saturday morning that obliges the EU executive to find a legal way to allow the sale of new cars installed with engines that run exclusively on synthetic e-fuels even after a mandate that requires sales of zero-emission vehicles only from 2035 comes into force.

“We have reached an agreement with Germany on the future use of e-fuel in cars,” said Frans Timmermans, head of the Commission’s Green Deal. Twitter. “We will now work to adopt carbon dioxide standards to regulate motor vehicles as soon as possible.”

The deal caused a row over an all-agreed car law until Germany, along with a small group of allies, hit the brakes just days before formal final approval of a law that is a cornerstone of the EU’s green agenda.

Timmermans said the commission would “follow up quickly” with “legal steps” to turn a non-legally binding supplement, originally introduced at the European automaker’s insistence, into a concrete solution that would allow new vehicles to run on e-fuel, which emits some CO2. Carbon, to be sold after 2035.

As a first step, the Commission agreed to place a new category of e-fuel-only vehicles within the existing Euro 6 car rulebook and then incorporate this classification into the controversial CO2 standards legislation which stipulates a sales phase-out date of 2035 for vehicles with new combustion engines.

The terms of the final deal from Timmermans Chief Cabinet Secretary Diederik Samsum, seen by POLITICO, state that the Commission will reopen the text of the engine ban law if EU lawmakers succeed in blocking the introduction of a technical supplement that would make room for e-fuel side-by-sides. With agreed carbon dioxide standards. Reopening the text of the proposed law is a move that is mainly opposed by the European Parliament and green-minded countries.

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The crux of the standoff was that Germany demanded legally binding language that would ensure the Commission finds a way to meet Berlin’s demands even if the European Parliament, or the courts, move to block any amendments or legal supplements to the 2035 zero-emissions legislation covering cars and vans.

In the statement, Samsom promised that the Commission would publish its full e-fuel proposal as a so-called authorization bill this fall. In practice, this means that the original 2035 legislation will initially be passed – giving the European Commission a decisive victory – but it sets up a future battle over the technical additions needed to satisfy Berlin.

“The law that says 100 percent of cars sold after 2035 must be zero-emissions will be voted on without change by next Tuesday,” said Pascal Canvin, the French liberal lawmaker who leads the file in the assembly. “Parliament will decide in due course the Commission’s future e-fuel proposals.”

motor end

The agreement means energy ministers can sign off on the original 2035 proposal during a meeting on Tuesday given that Berlin now has assurances that its demands will be met. An EU diplomat said EU ambassadors would pre-review the bilateral agreement between Brussels and Berlin on Monday.

The agreement caps a decade of German backtracking on car emissions rules in the EU.

In 2013, then-Chancellor Angela Merkel belatedly intervened to water down previous iterations of car emissions standards legislation, securing crucial adjustments for the country’s massive auto industry.

The deal means Germany effectively dropped its last-minute opposition to the motor vehicle ban Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Since the Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal, most automakers have shifted their investments toward electric vehicles, but some industry concerns, notably high-end automakers such as Porsche and Germany’s network of combustion engine component makers, have sought to rescue conventional gas consumers from the clutches of the EU’s ex officio sales ban. reality.

A final e-fuel solution in the 2035 legislation will take a few months to come up with, since the technical standards have not yet been clarified to establish a “robust, evasion-proof” system for the sale of cars that can only be filled with fuel. Synthetic substitutes for gasoline and diesel, according to Samsum’s statement.

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The timeline is already clear from Berlin’s perspective. “We want the process to be completed by autumn 2024,” said Germany’s Transport Ministry, which is run by the country’s Free Democratic Party. The Free Democratic Party, the smallest in Germany’s ruling tripartite coalition, had it He wanted consistent legal language To ensure a loophole for e-fuel, which could theoretically be CO2 neutral but is not usually compliant with emissions legislation since it still emits tailpipe pollutants.

With the FDP’s popularity waning, a row over car policy with Brussels has been a common point of discussion in German media over recent weeks. One survey indicates that 67 percent of respondents oppose motor ban legislation. Ahead of national elections in late 2025, the LDP is betting on driver-friendly policies such as e-fuels, new road construction initiatives, and blocking implementation of a national speed limit for motorways, to raise its profile.

Market observers don’t expect e-fuels to offer much in the way of a mass market alternative to electric vehicles, given that they are expensive to produce and not available in commercial volumes today. a Stady The Potsdam Institute for Climate Research reports that even if all global e-fuel production were allocated to German consumers, the output would only meet a tenth of national demand in the aerospace, marine and chemical sectors by 2035.

“E-fuel is a costly and largely inefficient diversion from electrification that European automakers are facing,” said Julia Poliscanova of the transport and green environment group.

Car policy

Although not on the official agenda, the issue Dominate the discussions On the sidelines of this week’s summit of EU leaders in Brussels. An agreement between Brussels and Berlin was sealed only at 9pm on Friday, hours after the leaders left the EU capital, before it was officially announced on social media early Saturday.

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“The way forward is clear,” German Transport Minister Volker Wessing said in announcing the deal. “We have created opportunities for Europe by keeping open important options for climate-neutral and affordable mobility.”

The deal meant Germany effectively dropped its last-minute opposition to the motor ban, collapsing a crippled minority from Italy, Poland, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic that had put up a roadblock to eventual ratification by ministers. The agreement was reached last October among the three institutions of the European Union.

It remains unclear whether Italy’s attempts to find a separate biofuel solution — which was personally promoted by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni at the summit — have also succeeded. However, without Berlin’s support, Rome has no way of blocking the legislation.

German Transport Minister Volker Wessing | Maja Hatig / Getty Images

Responses to the committee working on a detailed overhaul of its largest member state on agreed legislation have been generally negative, with many arguing that the e-fuel issue is a diversion.

“Opening up to e-fuels does not mean a big change in the shift to electric vehicles,” said Ferdinand Dudenhofer, professor at the Center for Automotive Research in Duisburg. He said the commission’s conclusion of the deal had raised “new investment uncertainties” that had undermined the bloc’s efforts to catch up with China, the world’s leading producer of electric vehicles.

However, most are just glad the combustion engine row is over, for the time being.

“It’s good that this impasse is over,” said German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke, who endorsed the original 2035 deal without mentioning e-fuels. “Anything else would have severely damaged confidence in European measures and Germany’s credibility within European politics,” the minister said in a statement.

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