What seemed like a wild proposal not that long ago is happening as the European Union has reached an agreement to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars from 2035. The EU's executive arm, the parliament, and member states have finalised a deal that will basically render the internal combustion engine illegal in 12 years' time.
There are some exceptions as niche automakers that produce 1,000 to 10,000 cars annually will be given a one-year exemption, until 2036. More exclusive brands that manufacture fewer than 1,000 units are safe for the time being.
As it stands, the EU has a total of 27 countries, but more could join in the years to come as Albania, Moldova, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, and Ukraine are all candidates. The only somewhat plausible scenario in which the ICE will live past the middle of the next decade is if synthetic fuels made from renewable sources will gain traction. Another glimmer of hope comes from Toyota and its experiments with combustion engines fuelled by hydrogen.
Before likely going purely electric in 2035, automakers who want to sell cars in the EU region will have to develop significantly cleaner ICE-powered cars. The agreement reached also calls for a reduction in CO2 emissions of 55 percent by the end of the decade compared to 2021 levels. It's a much more aggressive target compared to the initial goal of 37.5 percent.
Although the deal has a direct impact only in EU countries, the decision to effectively ban sales of new ICE cars from 2035 will undoubtedly have global ramifications. Many brands headquartered in a country member of the EU have already announced the demise of petrol and diesel cars commercialised in the EU.
Jaguar will bid adieu to the ICE as early as 2025 while all Stellantis brands (Alfa Romeo, Peugeot, Citroën, Jeep, etc.) will go EV-only within the next seven years, and so will Ford, Volvo, Bentley, and Rolls-Royce. MINI will follow suit early in the next decade while VW announced this week to do the same in 2033.
The decision truly feels like the beginning of the end for the combustion engine. The drastic CO2 cuts are likely to kill off many cars this decade until automakers will pull the plug in the UE in 2035.