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European Commission working on a plan to allow e-fuel combustion engine cars

21 March 2023

The European Commission has drafted a plan allowing sales of new cars with internal combustion engines that run only on carbon neutral e-fuels, according to Reuters who saw the draft proposal.

The draft proposal suggests creating a new type of vehicle category in the European Union for cars that can only run on carbon neutral fuels. Such vehicles would have to use technology that would prevent them from driving if other fuels are used. This would include a “fueling inducement system” to stop the car from starting if it was fueled by non-carbon neutral fuels.

The proposal could offer a route for car manufacturers to keep selling combustion engine vehicles after 2035, the planned date for zero CO2 emission target for light-duty vehicles—an effective ban on the sale of new CO2-emitting cars.

Last month, the EU Parliament approved legislation that would revise CO2 emission performance standards for new cars and vans, setting the path towards zero CO2 emissions for new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles in 2035. The legislation reflected the provisional political agreement on the zero CO2 targets that was reached last year between the European Council and the Parliament.

The text adopted by the Parliament was expected to be approved by the EU Council on March 7th, but in spite of the provisional agreement, Germany, Italy, and several other countries with significant auto industry employment lodged last-minute objections to the regulation.

Carbon neutral e-fuels—produced from CO2 using renewable electricity—suffer from low energy efficiency and are currently not produced at a commercial scale. According to some estimates, e-fuel production costs would be several times higher than the market price of petroleum-based fuels. To be commercially viable, e-fuels would require the availability of vast amounts of low-cost electricity.

Source: Reuters