German government, EU Commission agree on eFuels for internal-combustion engines after 2035
After a heated debate on the approval of new vehicles with internal-combustion engines powered by eFuels after 2035, the German Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport and the EU Commission reached an agreement in late March.
A key point is a declaration by the EU Commission announcing concrete proposals on how to create a perspective for the approval of new vehicles powered by eFuels after 2035.
A practicable methodology is to be developed by fall 2024.
“In order to be able to define vehicles that are exclusively powered by eFuels, the EU Commission wants to present a regulation for the type approval of vehicles in a first step,” the eFuel Alliance stated. “This should provide clarity as to when an internal-combustion vehicle powered by eFuels is considered a zero-emission vehicle.”
Alongside these efforts, the commission has announced a delegated act to define how eFuels-only vehicles contribute to CO2-emission reduction targets.
Ralf Diemer, the managing director of the eFuel Alliance, welcomed the compromise.
“By consistently and persistently sticking to technology openness, the [German Free Democratic Party (FDP)] has opened a door that should make climate-friendly eFuels for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles possible in the long term,” Diemer said. “Above all, this helps climate action, and we are pleased about that. The fact that Italy, Poland and other member states have supported the federal government in Brussels also shows that unilateral technology bans are viewed critically, not only in Germany but also in other parts.”
At the same time, Diemer warns against rash reports of success.
“This is a start that can lead to the desired result for new vehicles,” he said. “Now the real work begins, namely, to pay close attention to what the EU Commission submits in substance and what will actually be in the law. In addition, this regulation concerns new vehicles and does not address the existing fleet. This could be done, for example, through an ambitious renewable energy directive (REDIII). This is currently being negotiated in Brussels and is by no means in the bag yet.”
With the position taken mainly by the FDP in the German federal government and the ensuing public debate, eFuels have come more into focus as an addition to electrification.
“We have always pointed out that internal-combustion vehicles powered by eFuels can be just as climate friendly as an electric car running on green electricity,” Diemer said. “The fact that the EU Commission is now prepared to recognize this starting position in a declaration is in itself an enormous step forward compared to the previous decision. Hopefully, the right decisions will be made on this basis soon in order to create planning and investment security. The commission has already announced that it will strive for a swift procedure and work within the legal framework for a successful and acceptable decision-making process for all sides.”
The eFuel Alliance is an interest group committed to promoting political and social acceptance of eFuels and to securing their regulatory approval.
The alliance represents more than 170 companies, associations and consumer organizations along the eFuel-production value chain.