Global electric trend: global end for combustion engines? It’s more of a dream than reality
The first countries have already decided to turn off vehicles with combustion engines from 2035 or even before that. But what does that mean for industry and drivers in general?
Every few weeks a new sow is driven through the village on four wheels and a country, a state or a region loudly joins the swan song for the internal combustion engines. Most recently, the CSU chairman and Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Schröder brought a ban on internal combustion engines up for discussion. At the CSU party congress with the target of 2035, he was in the same horn as Dirk Messner, currently head of the Federal Environment Agency.
California: No new burners from 2035
Both follow the ecological state of California, which from 2035 only wants to allow vehicles without internal combustion engines for road traffic. France and Canada want to get out in 2040, Great Britain as early as 2035 and the Netherlands even as early as 2030. The situation is similar in Ireland, Sweden and Denmark, all of whom want to shut out combustion engines in around ten years.
When the Tesla runs on coal
The ifw Institute in Kiel recently spoke up and questioned the climate benefits of electric cars. According to the ifw researchers, a complete switch to electromobility would increase the electricity demand in the German car sector by almost 20 percent. However, this would in turn lead to an increased use of fossil fuels to generate electricity, since it is more climate-friendly to use renewable energies to reduce the proportion of fossil fuels – especially coal – in the electricity mix than to fill up with electric cars. You can read more about this problem here in a guest post.
Five years ago the so-called ZEV Alliance came together, a free confederation of states including the Federal Republic of Germany, which wants to make traffic climate-neutral by the year 2050. Depending on the energy-intensive production of vehicles and components, climate neutrality is only possible if vehicles with gasoline or diesel engines are no longer approved for use as new models. In the United States alone, in addition to the model state of California, the ZEV alliance includes nine other states, which represent around 40 percent of all new American registrations.
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The problem here is that the electricity in all cars also has to be produced in a green way in order to be climate neutral. In a country like Germany alone, a gigantic amount of green electricity would have to be generated. For the target year 2035, not only would the electricity for the three to 3.5 million new registrations calculated annually be available in a climate-neutral way, but also the electricity for the millions of vehicles that will be manufactured by then. The expansion of renewable energies has stalled in recent years, especially in Germany. In the largest German state of Bavaria, just six new wind turbines went into operation last year. More and more citizens, communities and interest groups are successfully suing the construction of new wind turbines in the vicinity of built-up regions, and solar parks are also finding it difficult.
46 percent of all cars would be affected by the ban
Andreas Radics, managing partner of the analysts at Berylls: “If the sales bans or restrictions on the operation of vehicles with internal combustion engines that have been announced or under discussion were already in effect, 41.6 million units or 46 percent of the current global sales volume would be affected.” With 24.6 million vehicles alone, China, the world’s largest auto market, would bring in more than half of the vehicles.
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A combustion ban has been discussed repeatedly in China for several years. However, a date for the so-called Car Ban China is more open than ever. The small island of Hainan alone, as a model region, has issued a driving ban for conventional cars until 2030. The review of a registration ban, which has been going on for four years, seems to be a sign that the coexistence between e-cars and combustion engines in China will last a little longer than previously feared.
China is no longer pursuing a pure electric strategy
But China has long been setting the tone in the global auto industry. However, if China were to issue a ban and completely opt for the switch to electric mobility, the car manufacturers would have to be ready, otherwise their business, which generates the most profits worldwide, will be massively threatened. The European Union has also been working for a long time to find a date on which vehicles with internal combustion engines should no longer be registered. Here the confederation of states of Europe is extremely inhomogeneous. Especially for the southern European countries – financially more troubled than ever – a switch to purely electric cars is likely to be difficult in the next 10 to 15 years. The ongoing corona crisis made the framework conditions even more difficult.
“In the end, the driving bans in the small states, including Germany, are honorable, but irrelevant for global development,” emphasizes Andreas Radics, “in China it is decided what the drive train of the future will look like. It is by no means clear that it has to get by without a combustion engine. Last year, China had directed its focus on e-mobility, but this focus has recently been raised; hydrogen, fuel cell drives and combustion engines are suddenly – again – playing a bigger role as alternatives. This has created a new uncertainty for the OEMs to which they have to react. ”
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The question that remains is whether a ban will apply to all new internal combustion engines or only to those that run on fossil fuels. The demands for artificial fuels, so-called e-fuels, are getting louder all over the world. In order to be able to produce these synthetic fuels in an environmentally friendly way, massive investments would have to be made in the expansion of green electricity. According to the consultants from Stahl Automotive Consulting (SAC), synthetic fuels can make an ecologically and economically sensible contribution to climate protection. However, certain conditions would have to be met for this. If the costs of electromobility are used to subsidize synthetic fuels from renewable production in sunny countries, almost 600 million tonnes could be saved in Germany by 2030.
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By the beginning of the next decade, synthetic fuels could even reach cost parity. If the entire German transport sector were to switch to these fuels, savings of around 180 million tons of CO2 would be possible each year. The comparison of the various drive concepts – including hydrogen – leads, according to the SAC white paper, to the result that “e-mobility is not a sensible solution for reducing CO2”, whereas synthetic fuels have the greatest potential. Although they save slightly fewer emissions per kilometer than hydrogen, the overall balance is significantly more positive, as they have lower additional costs compared to hydrogen and are easier to introduce due to the existing infrastructure.
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Self-sufficient energy supply is not realistic
A study by the British consultants at Frontier Economics, which was carried out in 2018, falls in the same direction. “Synthetic fuels will be indispensable for a CO2-neutral energy supply,” it says there. “Synthetic fuels will be an integral part of an energy transition towards greenhouse gas neutrality, if only because chemical energy sources are indispensable in various sectors and energy can only be stored chemically in large quantities.” However, it is also clear that a self-sufficient energy supply Germany is unrealistic even after a successfully implemented energy transition, if only because of the limited site availability for systems for renewable electricity generation.
Find out more about the future of mobility now
On our e-mobility portal EFAHRER.com you will find all e-vehicles & hybrids available on the German market with technical data, prices, delivery times and model comparisons. There is also ongoing Insider-News, Tests of all important vehicles, an overview Charging stations and one Range calculator.
You can also send a Test drive for your dream car and get started with e-mobility in an uncomplicated way.