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The EU Wants to Phase Out Gas Cars by 2035

June 22, 2022
A proposed ban on gasoline-powered vehicles has passed the first hurdle and will now be negotiated by the EU’s 27 member states.

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With Americans using about 135 billion gallons of gasoline in 2021—or roughly 369 million gallons daily—it’s difficult to envision a time when all gasoline-powered vehicles are off the road and replaced by those fueled by electricity, biodiesel or other alternative energy sources. However, that’s the goal of the European Union (EU) within the next 13 years.

This month, EU lawmakers voted to ban the sale of new diesel and gasoline cars by 2035, taking it one step closer to its goal of cutting emissions from new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles by 100% within the same timeframe. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will now negotiate the plans with the EU’s 27 member states, according to CNBC.

What Does it Mean?

If the ban goes into effect, automakers will have to cut carbon-dioxide emissions by 100% by the middle of the next decade, AP reports. The mandate would amount to a prohibition on the sale in the 27-nation bloc of new cars powered by gasoline or diesel. EU lawmakers also endorsed a 55% reduction in CO2 from automobiles in 2030 compared with 2021. “The move deepens an existing obligation on the car industry to lower CO2 discharges by 37.5% on average at the end of the decade compared to last year,” AP adds.

While the measure must still be debated on and passed into law, CNN says the parliamentary vote is seen as the “most crucial step” in the process. Full approval will likely mean a dip in sales for hybrid cars and a rapid transition to fully electric models, it adds.

The commission first announced a plan to phase out combustion engine cars in August 2021. It’s requiring the 27 EU member states to expand vehicle charging capacity. Charging points will be installed every 60 kilometers (37.3 miles) on major highways, according to CNN, and the minimum tax rate for gasoline and diesel fuel will be hiked.

The EU is the world's third-biggest polluter and the auto industry plays a vital role in its economy, CNN reports, accounting for 7% of gross domestic product and supporting 14.6 million jobs in the region. But transport is the only sector where greenhouse gas emissions are rising, and road vehicles accounted for 21% of CO2 emissions in 2017.

Making it Happen

Eliminating vehicle CO2 emissions is part of the European Commission’s Fit for 55 package to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) output. The Fit for 55 package is a set of proposals to revise and update EU legislation and to put in place new initiatives with the aim of ensuring that EU policies are in line with the climate goals agreed upon by the European Council and the European Parliament.

Two large German carmakers have voiced support of the EU’s plan to phase out internal combustion engines and replace them with electric vehicles. Volkswagen called the scheme an “ambitious but achievable goal” that will be irreversible. “It is the only ecologically, technologically and economically sensible way to replace combustion engines as quickly as possible,” the automaker said, Automotive Logistics reports.

Mercedes-Benz also welcomed the ban. “By 2030, we are ready to go fully electric wherever market conditions allow. The decision puts the onus on policymakers to ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place.”

The question is, can the EU realistically reduce CO2 emissions from new passenger and light commercial vehicles by 100% within just 13 years? Northeastern University’s Robert Triest says it could happen. “Electric vehicle technology is there,” he said. “Electric vehicle costs are falling fairly rapidly. And so by 2035 electric vehicles will likely be cheaper than internal combustion engine vehicles even without the subsidies.”

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About the Author

Bridget McCrea | Contributing Writer | Supply Chain Connect

Bridget McCrea is a freelance writer who covers business and technology for various publications.