Europe is preparing to turn the page on fuel-powered cars | DW Arabic news | Breaking news and perspectives from around the world | DW

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It seems that a page of history may soon be turned. For more than a century, The Old Continent, the birthplace of some of the world’s most important auto manufacturers, has dominated innovation in this sector. European companies manufacture heat engines that are considered the most efficient in the world. But the car, the first mode of travel for Europeans, has been criticized for its strong emissions levels.

In the face of this emergency, the European Union has reinforced its CO2 reduction targets in 2020, and is aiming for carbon neutrality in 2050.

The European Commission is expected to propose new rules on July 14 to this end. According to several sources, the Commission may request the complete elimination of car emissions from 2035. Thus, electric cars powered by batteries will become the only ones allowed on European roads in this case.

As of 2020, Europe has imposed a ceiling on car emissions of 95 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer, and it was scheduled to reduce it by 37.5% in 2030.

Ultimately, the reduction could reach 60% in 2030, and then 100% in 2035. These figures, which are still under discussion, will impose huge constraints on companies operating in the sector as they will also have to comply by 2027 with new rules to tighten pollution standards imposed on heat engines.

Electric cars are making strong progress. These vehicles accounted for 8% of the total cars registered in Western Europe over the first five months of this year, equivalent to 356,000 vehicles, which is “more than the whole of 2019,” according to German analyst Matthias Schmidt.

The new rules will give preference to these vehicles and push for the abandonment of hybrid cars or hybrids that combine a gasoline engine and battery.

Concern and divisions within the auto industry

But such a trend raises concern among companies operating in a sector that employs 14.6 million people in the European Union and still relies heavily on this “transitional technology”.

European Manufacturers Association President Oliver Zipse said recently that if the EU adopts accompanying measures, particularly in the development of electric charging stations, “we are open to further reductions in CO2 emissions in 2030”. But the pressure group, which has long struggled to slow the transition, is deeply divided.

The majority of its members assert that the excessive acceleration of the transition to electric cars would raise car prices, eliminate jobs and strengthen Chinas position in competition, especially because it is more advanced in the field of battery production.

But the leading European company, Volkswagen, which accounts for a quarter of car sales in Europe, joined the American company, Tesla, in promoting fully electric vehicles, after the resounding scandal that rocked the German company in 2015 after it admitted to tampering with diesel engines.

Matthias Schmidt noted that there was “a major conflict within the Association of European Automobile Manufacturers”. He pointed out that due to the “Volkswagen” scandal, “the company was forced to accelerate its steps in the field of electric vehicle production to improve its image. The group has invested huge sums in this field and now has the products required to respect future legislation.”

Schmidt pointed out that “Volkswagen is in an ideal position to improve its market shares and send some competitors into the abyss.”

In June, the German brand announced that it would stop selling petrol engines in Europe between 2033 and 2035.

For its part, the German car company Opel intends to limit the production of electric cars only in Europe by 2028. Opel CEO Michael Loescher said that his company intends by the middle of the current decade to launch a new version of its classic sports car “Manta” as an electric car.

The Chairman of the Environment Committee of the European Parliament, Pascal Canavan, considered that the end of heat engines in 2035 constitutes the right compromise between 2030, which is a very early date at the industrial and social level, and 2040, which is a very late date at the climatic level. However, Canavan called for the creation of a “a few billion euros” fund to support hundreds of small and medium-sized companies in sectors threatened by technological change.

AGM/A.H (AFP, DBA)



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