European Union’s plan to ban petrol cars by 2035 could be defied by Germany

Several companies have already agreed to phase out combustion engines, with Volkswagen boss Ralf Brandstatter saying recently the shift to electrification was “irreversible”. Mercedes has already pledged to be all-electric by 2030, “where market conditions allow”.

The war in Ukraine and pressure to transition away from Russian gas has thrown the German economy into chaos, with the International Monetary Fund this week warnings its energy woes were a serious threat to Europe’s largest economy.

Adding to tensions within the German coalition, a spokesman for Green environment minister Steffi Lemke said the government “fully supports the proposal by the Commission and the European Parliament to allow new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles only with zero-emission powertrains from 2035”.


The European Parliament signed off on the 2035 zero emissions mandate earlier this month. The Council is due to make a final call at a meeting of EU climate and environment ministers on June 28.

The leader of Italy’s far-right Lega party, Matteo Salvini, referred to the decision at the time as “madness” calling it a “gift to China, a disaster for millions of Italians and Europeans”.

Italy is pushing to obtain an exception for carmakers like Ferrari, Bugatti and Lamborghini from the ban.

Cars account for around 12 per cent of European emissions of greenhouse gases, which are blamed for increasingly frequent and intense heat waves, storms and floods tied to climate change. Electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles made up 18 per cent of new passenger cars sold in the EU last year.

In Britain, a ban on new petrol and diesel cars, which was originally planned for 2040, has been brought forward by the government to 2030 as part of Boris Johnson’s plan to reduce emissions by at least 68 per cent by the same date on 1990 levels.

Greens groups reacted furiously to Lindner’s latest intervention, with the German Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation saying the internal combustion engine was “a discontinued model”.

“By not backing the proposals in the European Council, Germany would be doing a disservice to the corporations that have long since set out on the path to a battery-electric future,” it added.

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