ICE & Hybrid vehicles stall in the EU

Earlier this month, the European Parliament voted to support what is an effective EU ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, including hybrid vehicles, from 2035.

Back in 2021, the European Commission unveiled plans to reduce tailpipe CO2 emissions from all new cars to zero by 2035.  This 100% CO2 reduction target would effectively ban the sale of new ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) powered cars, including hybrids.  Some in the automotive sector and political parties had pushed for a more relaxed target of 90% CO2 reduction by 2035, to allow ongoing sale of hybrids and cleaner fuel technologies beyond 2035.

In the recent vote, the European Parliament resisted these calls to relax the 100% CO2 emission reduction, thwarting attempts to delay the speed with which Europe is set to shift away from fossil fuel powered vehicles and confirming plans to ban alternative low-carbon fuels including hybrid vehicles.

Although the European Parliament’s vote does not make this law final, it does confirm its position for negotiations with EU countries on the final law. Whilst some lawmakers will still hope to reduce the EU’s proposed law to require 100% reduction in CO2 emissions from new cars by 2035 to a 90% reduction, it appears unlikely that the target will be changed. Especially, as carmakers such as Ford, Volvo, Jaguar, Audi, and Volkswagen have all either backed the 100% reduction plan or have stated that they aim to stop selling combustion engine cars in Europe by 2035.

This shift in policy from the internal combustion engine toward greener technologies, such as electric vehicles, will have a large effect on the market in Europe. However, the ban of the sale of new combustion engine cars and hybrid vehicles only extends to EU members. Some parts of the world do not plan to introduce similar laws until 2040 or even 2050, whilst other countries have indicated laws banning such vehicles from 2035 but are yet to make significant progress towards bringing in such a law.

As we have previously reported, many automotive companies have been preparing for this eventuality and have been working hard to build up their IP portfolios in the electric vehicle sector. This should stand them in good stead to deal with the switch to electrification. In addition, with the switch to greener alternatives almost set in stone, the EU member states will have to prioritise ensuring the correct infrastructure is prepared for 2035. Therefore, look out for advancements not only in battery technology (see our earlier article on solid state batteries here) but also in charging point infrastructure and even in renewable methods of generating the electricity required.

Finally, although it does appear that we are entering the end of the ICE Age (see our earlier ICE Age article here) in the EU and the UK (which plans to ban the sale of new purely ICE vehicles by 2030 and hybrid vehicles by 2035), there are those who still believe efficiency savings in ICEs and hybrid technologies can extend the era of ICE-powered vehicles beyond 2035. Those believers will still have the opportunity to prove themselves correct outside of the EU through the sale of their improved ICE and hybrid vehicles. Although it may not be enough to change the stance of the EU and the UK, other jurisdictions may be persuaded to continue sale and manufacture of ICEs/hybrids further into the future. Interestingly, the EU ban only appears to relate to the sale of the vehicles, so IP protection for ICE components being manufactured in the EU for use outside of the EU, or possibly as spare parts in the EU, may still be key to any automotive company that continues to strive to improve vehicles using ICEs and hybrid technology.