The ban on combustion engine vehicles has begun, as countries around the world are rolling out sweeping new laws that will see the partial to full ban of new diesel and gas-powered vehicles in the coming decade.
On February 21, the European Union approved new laws that will halt the sale of combustion engine vehicles by 2035. The bloc is one of the largest regions that have joined the growing list of countries looking to halt the sale of fossil fuel cars in an ongoing effort to reach net-zero carbon emission goals.
The new laws would impose financial penalties on all gas and diesel-operated vehicles, within the 27 member countries, which will steadily help phase out all fossil fuel vehicles in the coming 12 years.
The bloc now joins countries including Canada, China, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, among others who all have set out deadlines to reach net-zero goals.
The sale of new electric vehicles (EVs) nearly doubled between 2020 and 2021, seeing more than 6.6 million new EVs being registered worldwide. According to the International Energy Agency, around 10% of new cars sold in 2021 were fully electric.
Steady demand from consumers have meant that traditional household automotive names have now also entered the race to become industry leaders. Even with EV prices still elevated, higher than the average combustion engine car, demand has continued growing.
In the U.S., EV representation increased by 65% in 2022, recording a two-third increase from the year before. EVs accounted for 5.8% of all new cars sold last year, an improvement from the 3.1% recorded in 2021.
While many countries embark on their ambitious net-zero goals, some believe target dates may be unrealistic, never mind considering the financial and economic impact it will have.
Governments from Italy, the Czech Republic, and Hungary have already questioned the legitimacy of the new laws imposed by the European Parliament. While government officials understand the need for cleaner and more reliable mobility in the bloc, many feel the deadlines set out by the EU Parliament give them little time to properly plan for the transition.
Italy’s Foreign Minister, Antonio Tajan called for the legislation to be reviewed, calling for a reduction of 90% in carbon emissions, rather than 100 percent.
The country is home to household automotive brands such as Alfa Romeo, Fiat, and Ferrari, with the industry employing close to 270,000 citizens.
Slovakia, in Eastern Europe, has been gradually planning its green transition under new European laws since 2013. The country’s automotive industry contributes roughly 13% of its GDP, and vehicle manufacturing makes up 33% of the country’s exports, mainly to European markets.
While Slovakia has been working towards similar zero-emission goals, the EV manufacturing industry is still largely powered by fossil fuels. On top of this, the country’s EV industry is still somewhat in its development phases, relying on affordable, if not completely cheap, labor.
The worldwide fossil fuel ban has also seen Australia looking to introduce new laws that will soon see Australians having to purchase cleaner, battery-powered vehicles in the coming decades.
The recent move by the EU has prompted the Australian Electric Vehicle Association (AEVA) to have a more aggressive stance to introduce partial bans on gas-operated vehicles.
President of the AEVA, Chris Jones said that 2035 is perhaps a conservative position to ban new fossil fuel cars, and it would put pressure on other countries, including Australia to adapt to the fast-growing global demand for EVs.
Automakers that manufacture less than 1,000 new combustion engine vehicles could potentially be barred from the ban, but that could potentially lower safety standards in the country, aligning Australian drivers to receive similar EVs currently available in developing nations.
While countries across the board are willing to sacrifice economic growth and development across several industries, many are skeptical about whether phase-out dates are realistic enough. There is a lot of potential for the future of electric vehicles, yet this time many hope it will be a sustainable long-term solution that’s realistic enough to achieve.