Battery-electric vehicles (BEV) seem to be the future, and people will have to eventually ween themselves off fossil fuels. However, e-fuel might be the internal combustion engine’s (ICE) saving grace, but there are still some unanswered questions that Stellantis is already asking.
The automaker announced Thursday that it was finalizing testing of e-fuels in several of its engines. No, Stellantis is not wavering in its commitment to selling only BEVs in Europe by the end of the decade. It’s doubling down.
Stellantis said that e-fuel is part of its “toolbox” to fight climate change and reduce emissions. According to it, e-fuel can reduce up to 400 million tons of CO2 in Europe between 2025 and 2050 just from its fleet of 28 million vehicles. It would help decarbonize combustion engines and be an alternative for people living in places that might lack new EV charging infrastructure.
E-fuel is a synthetic drop-in replacement for traditional gasoline. It’s made from captured atmospheric CO2 and renewable energy, which can be made in wind and sun belts around the world away from current fossil fuel extraction sites.
The automaker is testing 28 gasoline and diesel engine families built from 2014 to 2029. They are undergoing comprehensive testing that evaluates the tailpipe emissions, engine power, reliability endurance, oil dilution, fuel system, and more.
Stellantis isn’t the only automaker exploring the alternative fuel. Late last year, Porsche began e-fuel production at a facility in Chile, where it invested $75 million. The automaker pumped the first drops into a 911, with the plant expected to produce around 34,000 gallons in its pilot phase. The US used 134 billion gallons of the stuff in 2021, so there’s a long way to go. The company hopes to be producing 145 million gallons by around 2027.
Stellantis’ announcement comes just weeks after the European Union agreed to allow e-fuel models to be sold after the bloc’s ICE ban goes into effect in 2035. Automakers will have to figure out how to ensure owners don’t use gas or diesel instead of e-fuel, with the agreement giving the technology a chance to keep ICE on the road a little bit longer.