June 29, 2022, signals the beginning of the end for the internal combustion engine in the European Union as environment ministers from the 27 countries have agreed to sign the ICE's execution warrant. More than 16 hours of negotitations were necessary to reach an agreement at a meeting in Luxembourg focused on ways to combat climate change in the EU. The ban refers strictly to sales of new cars and vans powered by gasoline and diesel engines.
The outcome is written in black and white: "The Council also agreed to introduce a 100% CO2 emissions reduction target by 2035 for new cars and vans." Bear in mind the European Parliament also wants to outlaw sales of used ICE-powered vehicles, but that wasn't decided today. To that end, further negotiations will take place, but the new car sales ban is now written in stone.
Technically speaking, the 2035 ban calls for a complete reduction of emissions, without mentioning the combustion engine. We're pointing this out because it does leave the door open for ICEs running on alternative fuels. Some automakers are experimenting with hydrogen-fueled combustion engines while others are researching synthetic fuels. Side note – Formula 1 cars will run on entirely sustainable fuel from 2026.
The decisions taken today will have huge consequences across the automotive industry as automakers will accelerate the switch to EVs even further. The ramifications will go way beyond the borders of the European Union since it won't be feasible for the likes of Volkswagen or BMW to develop ICE cars they won’t be able to sell in the EU.
Before the cutoff date, automakers will have to slash CO2 emissions by 55 percent for new cars and by 50 percent for vans by the end of this decade. This decision was also taken today as part of the Fit for 55 package to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. In addition, incentives for zero- and low-emission vehicles (ZLEV) will cease to exist as of 2030.