EU proposes phasing out new internal combustion cars by 2035

Photo by Michael Kappeler / picture alliance via Getty Images

The European Union has proposed phasing out gas-powered internal combustion engine vehicles by 2035, part of a sweeping new plan to drastically reduce carbon emissions on the continent.

If passed, the legislation would require a 55 percent cut in overall CO2 emissions from new vehicles by 2030 compared to current levels. As it stands, the EU only currently requires a 37.5 percent cut by 2030 — which is weaker than even the United States is targeting. By 2035, though, the EU proposes a 100 percent cut, effectively banning new gas and even hybrid cars.

The effective ban would be an effective tool for cleaning up air pollution, as passenger cars make up about 12 percent of the total CO2 emissions in the EU. It would also be a big boost to all-electric vehicles, and the companies that have committed the most money to developing them like Volkswagen, which says it wants half of its total vehicles sold in 2030 to be fully electric.

To support the switch to electric, the EU said Wednesday in its proposal that it wants member countries to install public charging stations no more than 60 kilometers (37.3 miles) apart on major roads by 2025. The EU ultimately expects 3.5 million new charging stations by 2030 and 16.3 million by 2050.

The proposal, which was developed by the EU’s executive branch, must be approved by the entire 27-country bloc. Some countries have already announced similarly aggressive targets, and a handful of automakers have laid out a roadmap for phasing out new gas-powered vehicles on the continent as well. But there could be resistance. France, for instance, is currently targeting an internal combustion phase-out by 2040 and is looking for more wiggle room on hybrids.

Outside the EU, the United Kingdom has announced plans to ban the sale of new combustion engine cars by 2030, while California is looking to do the same by 2035. The EU’s regulations are particularly important, though, because it is home to many of the world’s biggest automakers.

At the federal level in the United States, President Joe Biden has started to unwind Trump-era decisions to weaken vehicle emissions standards. In April, he moved to restore California’s power to set its own standards, and later this year, his administration is expected to set average fuel economy standards of 51 miles per gallon by 2026.

Comments

Im all for phasing out ICE cars but they dont really propose solutions to current issues surrounding EV’s. What about people that live in apartments or places that they cant have a dedicated charging station. I understand they want charging stations every 37 miles but what will the speeds be? What energy source will supply that increase electical demand? It would be pointless to phase out ICE engines only to charges ev’s with coal plants. What about the high EV prices?

Im all for phasing out ICE cars but they dont really propose solutions to current issues surrounding EV’s.

There are certainly challenges and issue that need to be solved over the next 20 years (I think the 2035 is likely going to be delayed a few years as all major government project are)… the answers to these are there if you actually wanted to look – I too was interested in understanding these details… and I was able to find a fair amount of the information online simply by search. Sure the current answers people have aren’t perfect, but there are people trying to solve them.

Some of the things that work in Europe favor is that countries there are generally much less car-oriented as well as being much more open driving small cars with shorter range as well as being slightly more organized about EV to begin with (for example Europe was able to pick a standard charging connector that all EV makers, including Tesla, comply with).

What about the high EV prices?

The Renault Zoe is the best selling EV in Europe at €23,900, or roughly $27,000 USD before incentives. Germany offer multiple incentives… including 10-year tax exemption, 3% reduction in VAT, and lump €9000 subsidy. That makes the 52kw Renault Zoe with over 200 miles of real world range (245 miles WLTP) cost less than $18,000 USD. France has a €7000 subsidy, plus a €7000 scrappage per household (i.e. their version of cash for clunkers). UK has a €3000 subsidy, waives road tax, VAT (which effective drops Zoe’s price by another €4800).

This is on top of the fact that gas prices in Europe are in the $5-6/gal range.

I understand they want charging stations every 37 miles but what will the speeds be? What energy source will supply that increase electical demand?

As this research article explains – the charging speeds like dictated by the intended use of the charge… they aren’t going to put a 7KW charge on national highway rest stop. If the EV charging is for road trips, it will be over 150KW. If it’s for some place you are staying for an hour it will likely be 20-50KW…. multiple hours most likely 7-10KW

What about people that live in apartments or places that they cant have a dedicated charging station.

Again… it’s not like Europe doesn’t know EV charging infrastructure needs to be improved in the coming decades.

As I mentioned, one of the things going for European countries is that they are less car oriented… for example Spain does have a large percentage of people that live in apartment… but only

43% households drive a car more than 6 miles a day.
car isn’t considered essential to daily life

There are a variety of solutions being used to solve this – as I said none of them are perfect, but together they should help make the transition smoother. One is to provide charging at street lights which is helped by the fact that the bulbs in the street light are now only pulling like 70W instead of like 1000W. I think there is a plan to update parking meters to also provide EV charging.

Another is to provide charging stations at communal locations/businesses like laundromat, gyms, movie theaters, malls, shopping centers, train stations, parks. If you consider the RV parking lots already have an electrical hookup capable of charging an RV.
An alternative solution, that I’m personally skeptical of… but I would be happy to be wrong about… is EV battery swapping. Nio is already doing that in China.

Now this is not to say there won’t be problems/setback/delays… I suspect some countries with less productive governments (say Greece maybe)… is probably going to probably lag behind… and I bet they will get some type of extension. Also realize even if a ban goes into place at 2035-2040… there will literally tens of millions of existing ICE vehicles that will be grandfathered in…. those vehicles will last another 20 years or so. 40 years is not too short a time frame to target for in my opinion. Not setting a long term goal (I think 15 years is decently long term) would be foolish imo.

What energy source will supply that increase electical demand? It would be pointless to phase out ICE engines only to charges ev’s with coal plants.

I missed replying to this. First, while not ideal… even simply moving the pollution away from dense population centers to sparse population areas would lead to better health outcomes. This is pretty obvious if you’ve ever warmed up your car in the winter and then walked back through the cloud of fumes that has collected or tried walking through a heavily trafficked underpass/tunnel.

Now as you said, coal plants still produce a load of emissions bad for the environment overall… which is why it’s great that both US and Europe now get more electricity from renewables than coal.


This is largely because despite the removal of subsidies by the previous administration… electricity produced by solar and wind (along with natural gas) have become cheaper than coal.

To add to android_alpaca’s excellent answers above.

Apartment charging where there are allocated parking spaces is not a technically difficult problem. As an apartment-domiciled european EV owner for the last 10 years I’ve moved several times and always managed to get charging sorted. By far the easiest situation was in highest density apartment buildings near city centers… because building regulations usually centralised the electricity meters in the underground parking and cabling could be run to the allocated parking space on the ceiling.

What energy source will supply that increase electical demand?

I live in Ireland. In 2019, 54% of our electricity production was from renewables. We have only one coal power plant that is shutting operations before 2025. 7% of gas fed to our gas power stations is renewable biogas and the plan is to make at least 50% of gas supply biogas by 2030.
Based on my average energy consumption per km, SIMI car sales statistics and Central Statistics Office estimates of national road mileage for the national private car fleet, if 100% of car sales today were electric the increased grid demand would be approximately 2-3% annually.
Electricity demand across most of europe has been falling over the last 10 years.

What about people who live in areas who only have access to street parking? This is pretty common. Some people may have to walk a block or two (or more) from their parking spot to their residence.

Quite a few places in Europe have chargers built into light posts, while many destinations can supply several hours of trickle charge while completing your task.

Worst case, they have to go to a fast charger for 15-20 minutes occasionally, just like an ICE vehicle.

I would also like to join a gym and get fit when I’m old, maybe when I’m 115-120.

I like the idea of phasing out new ICE vehicles, but battery charging technology would either have to get better, and/or charging infrastructure would have to get much better. Imagine living somewhere where you only had access to street parking (and not right in front of your residence) and worked from home. Where are you supposed to charge up your vehicle?

I like the idea of phasing out new ICE vehicles, but battery charging technology would either have to get better, and/or charging infrastructure would have to get much better.

When Motorola Dynatac came out. It cost $10,000 when adjusted for inflation, took 10 hours to charge, had a 30 minute talk time, literally only worked in a few blocks of Manhattan… affordable/usable cellphone device really only started being made in the mid-1990… but even then they were limited by there cellular infrastructure… tens/hundreds of thousands of cell sites would be need to be built… and look what happened over 15 years (roughly the time we are targeting the end of new ICE vehicle production).

I agree that at the moment… there is a non-insignificant number of people for whom BEV are not practical at this time… but 15-20 years is a long time… 15 years before we sent people to the moon we didn’t know how to make spacesuits (did you know that the first US spacesuits ended up being made by Playtex… who had previously only made women’s underwear?). In contrast, the challenge of building out EV charging infrastructure… while again non-trivial… is pretty doable in 10-15 years provided that there is a concerted effort to do so (which is what we are beginning to see in many countries).

Finally, I personally think the battery charging technology is pretty close to being enough… if you just able to have it available everywhere… at the moment some BEV can reliabily go from 0-50% in 10 mins and 0-80% in 22 mins. The longest range BEV today gets just over 400 miles range (YMMV based on car usage). That means it gets ~200 miles of range in 10 mins and ~300 miles of range in ~20 mins. Because of some physics/chemistry quirks of how all battery pack charge (individual cells charge in parallel and the always charge significantly faster when near empty). This rate of charge works even as the overall battery capacity increases. There are already 120-150 kwh battery packs (the main restriction is cost… and battery prices are continually dropping) meaning in 10 years… even with the same battery technology… you are likely to start seeing vehicles with 500-600 miles of range… that can charge up to 250 miles of range in 10 mins (over 100 miles of range in less than 5 minutes). That should cover 99.99% of people driving needs in terms of long distance road trips…

Imagine living somewhere where you only had access to street parking (and not right in front of your residence) and worked from home. Where are you supposed to charge up your vehicle?

Your attempt to think of the worse case scenario kind of fell apart with you last detail. If you worked from home… how much do you really need to charge you BEV locally? If you take a road trip on the weekend… then one of the highway rest stop charger which largely already exist (or will be in the next few years) will have you covered.

That being said… there are a variety of solutions being tried out to offer charging to people without access to home charge (2020 US Census shows that only 17% of US households that use a car to commute to work live in home is unlikely to have access to a garage/driveway). Personally I can easily foresee chargers being available at laundromats, grocery stores, hair salons, fitness gyms, libraries, movie theaters, shopping malls. Think of EV charging as the new "validated park" perk. Finally, I’m not sure it will work but there are pilot program to convert street lights (which are wired for a lot more power than they need now that they’ve switch from sodium to LED bulbs) and parking meters to provide power.

For people who worry about the total energy usage… overall EV don’t actually that that much energy… maybe the equivalent of a two home A/C units. If you look at peak to low usage… there is quite a bit of sparse capacity already… we are only going to get more capacity (over capacity even with more solar power over the next few decades).

In the end, it will be messy, there will likely be missteps, but I feel like the path to building an EV charging infrastructure is already pretty doable in 15-20 years. For better or worse… those worse case scenario people… people living in high rise apartment in sparse rural areas with no nearby urban area… those will be the people who will/should be the last people to change over to BEVs… and that can happen long after the 2035-2040 ban on ICE new vehicle sales… they’ll just buy a used ICE vehicle that was grandfathered in… there will be tens of millions of them, will last another 10-20 years… and likely be getting cheap as the majority population (hopefully) neither needs nor wants them anymore.

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