8 Jun 22

European fleets must prepare for 2035 deadline for EV transition

The European motor industry needs to switch from being petrol heads to battery heads to meet tough greenhouse gas emission targets, according to Frans Timmermans, the European Commissioner championing the European Green Deal and the EC’s first European Climate Law.

European fleets can plan with ever greater certainty for a transition to zero emission vehicles as the European Commission intensified its efforts to impose a ban on the sale of all cars with internal combustion engines by 2035.

Transforming road transport is a key plank of the EC’s ambitious ‘Fit for 55’ project, which aims to introduce legislation that will deliver a reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions of at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

The transport sector (including aviation and maritime) currently accounts for more than a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions within the European Union, and the EC wants to achieve a 90% fall in these emissions to support its climate change efforts.

2035: all new sales must be zero emission

Speaking this week [7 June] in Strasbourg, Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the EC, said: “To reach climate neutrality by 2050, nearly all cars on Europe's roads need to be zero emission by then. If you look at the average lifetime of cars, 2035 is a good date for when all new car sales must be zero emission.”

This leaves fleets with less than three replacement cycles to establish an effective strategy for operating EVs, and even less time in some markets – Norway will ban the sale of ICE vehicles from 2025 and the UK from 2030.

OEMs ready for 2035

A 2035 deadline has already been adopted by the majority of car makers, although some are keener to move faster, committing to sell only electric cars by 2030 or even 2028 in the case of Opel (part of the Stellantis group).

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“Our proposal would cement this trend for all carmakers with extra ambition in preceding years. We must give industry a clear signal and allow them to plan investments going forward,” said Timmermans.

He described electric cars as “the affordable and sustainable solution,” insisting they are cheaper to run due to fuel savings, and arguing that they will be cheaper to buy as a result of revised CO2 performance standards that will make ICE vehicles more expensive to sell.


Some members of the European Parliament have argued that e-fuels (such as plant-based biodiesel) offer an easier, alternative transition to low emission motoring by 2050, but Timmermans said these will never be available in sufficient quantities, will be more expensive than petrol at the pumps, and require six times the energy to produce compared to the battery in an electric car. Nor do they solve the problem of tailpipe emissions.

“I don't think that by prolonging the change to electric mobility, by leaving a loophole in the legislation so there is not a complete ban on emission cars by 2035, but leaving the opportunity to still build them, is helping the car industry at all,” said Timmermans. “The longer you take to make a change that is inevitable, the more will cost. It will cost you more money. It will cost more social pain. It will create an illusion and you chain people to a past that has no future. This is not helping the European car industry at all.”

EV infrastructure

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, says the EC’s plans for mass market adoption of electric vehicles will only work if there is a far more ambitious and mandatory scaling up of charging infrastructure across the entire EU – four countries currently account for 70% of charge points in the region.

Image: Shutterstock




Authored by: Jonathan Manning