Industry groups are uneasy after EU lawmakers back 2035 zero-emissions target

Environmental groups welcomed the vote. “The deadline means the last fossil fuel cars will be sold by 2035, giving us a fighting chance of averting runaway climate change,” said Alex Keynes, clean vehicles manager at Transport & Environment. “And it gives the certainty the car industry needs to ramp up production of electric vehicles, which will drive down prices for drivers.”

The plan to eliminate CO2 emissions from vehicles is part of the European Commission’s “Fit for 55” package, which aims to cut emissions 55 percent in 2030 from 1990 levels. The ultimate goal is carbon neutrality by 2050.

The measure now goes to the European Council, made up of ministers from the 27 EU countries.

A note from analyst company Bernstein said the ministers are “largely expected to agree to the 2035 target of zero emissions for new cars.”

Conservative and right-leaning lawmakers had sought to tone down the ban, highlighting concerns over potential job losses in the industry.

Industry groups including the influential German auto association VDA had also lobbied lawmakers to reject the 2035 target, saying it penalized alternative low-carbon fuels and came too early given a lack of charging infrastructure.

The suppliers lobbying group CLEPA said in a statement that the 2035 target “discards technology options and puts jobs at risk.” 

German automaker and car owners lobby groups on Thursday criticized the decision.

VDA President Hildegard Mueller said large parts of Europe did not have the necessary charging infrastructure in place. She also said the ban would increases new-car prices.

“It is too early for such a target,” Mueller said.

Mueller criticized policymakers for demanding that automakers accelerate their switch to electric cars without themselves creating the framework conditions that would enable a faster shift.

Reinhard Zirpel, head of Germany’s VDIK association for importers, said: “The transformation to alternative drivetrains will fundamentally change everyday mobility in Europe and also make it more expensive for many people.”

He also urged the EU to create the appropriate conditions for electrification, such as purchase incentives and the necessary charging infrastructure.

The Automobil-Club Verkehr called it “a narrow-minded commitment to battery-electric mobility.”

The ADAC said it will not be possible to achieve the ambitious climate protection targets in transport with electromobility alone.

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