Business giants press EU to ban petrol and diesel car sales by 2035

Pictured: The Volvo XC40 Recharge. Volvo is one of the 27 business signatories

In an open letter sent to lawmakers earlier this week, the businesses state that such a move would “put Europe on the pathway to deliver emissions reductions in line with what is needed to meet the ambitions of the Paris Agreement” while “providing a clear signal to automotive manufacturers and suppliers” and firms in related sectors. This signal, it states, will help governments work with the private sector to deliver “timely investments” at the scale needed.

The proposed ban would cover new petrol and diesel cars and vans with a combustion engine of any kind – including hybrid models. Second-hand sales and sales of other new ICE vehicles, like large trucks and motorbikes, would still be permitted.

Proposals from the businesses mirror changes recently made in the UK as part of the Ten Point Plan for a green recovery and industrial revolution. Published in November 2020, the package confirmed a 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel car sales and earmarked £1.3bn to electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure.

The open letter is being sent to the EU ahead of the publication of ‘Fit for 55’ – a package of legislation designed to put the bloc on track for its 2030 climate target of cutting net emissions by at least 55%. This target was agreed upon last year after much debate and was enshrined in law earlier this month. Signatories of the letter point to the fact that cars and vans generate 15% of Europe’s annual CO2 emissions. The package could set the ban by setting a CO2e target for automakers at 0 grams per kilometer.

Businesses signing the letter are Allego, Ample, Arrival, Chargepoint, Coca-Cola European Partners, Electreon, Enel X, EV Box, Fastned, Greenway, Iberdrola, IKEA Retail, LeasePlan, Leclanché, Li-cycle, Lime, Metro AG, Novamont, Novo Nordisk, SAP Labs in France, Schneider Electric, Sky, Uber, Vattenfall, Verkor, Volvo Cars and Vulcan Energy. Many signatories already have net-zero targets and/or ambitions to switch to 100% electric fleets. Volvo announced last month that it will only sell EVs by 2030.

Other organisations supporting include Transport & Environment, ShareAction, AVERE, Drive Electric, EGEC Geothermal and the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA).

“By planning to become a fully electric car company by 2030, Volvo Cars intends to set the pace in the transition to zero-emission mobility within our industry,” the firm’s head of global sustainability Anders Karrberg said.

“But clear governmental direction and support is also needed to accelerate this transition… Additional measures are also needed to increase EU consumer demand for electrified vehicles, including the rapid development of a comprehensive charging infrastructure.”

Uber’s regional manager for EMEA, Anabel Diaz, added: “A phase-out by 2035 for all new vehicles sold in Europe will accelerate the availability of affordable new and second-hand EVs, breaking down one of the key obstacles for high-km drivers – like those on the Uber platform – to make the EV switch which will have an outsized impact on climate.”

Autonomous EVs

The call to action comes in the same week that the UK has given the go-ahead for self-driving electric cars on roads.

In a statement, the Department for Transport said that self0driving cars travelling at up to 37 miles per hour will be permitted on motorways by the end of 2021. Vehicles will be required to operate an Automated Lane-Keeping System (ALKS).

Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said the commitment contributes to the UK’s vision to “build back better” and that departments are consulting on further rules to improve safety as the rollout continues.

“Technologies such as ALKS will pave the way for higher levels of automation in future and these advances will unleash Britain’s potential to be a world leader in the development and use of these technologies, creating essential jobs while ensuring our roads remain among the safest on the planet,” Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said in a statement.

Sarah George

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