A couple of weeks ago you may remember we reported on the delayed vote that would have finally enshrined the 2035 combustion engine phaseout in EU law. Well, things have apparently gathered pace since then - and not in the direction the continent’s lawmakers would have preferred. You might recall that it was Germany - specifically, its Transport Minister - that was responsible for thrusting a what-about-synthetic-fuel stick into the EU’s spokes ahead of what was supposed to be a rubber stamping of previously agreed legislation.
Well, on Monday, like John Wayne forming a posse, Volker Missing - or Volker-dawg, as we’ve taken to calling him in the office - found some support from other transport ministers. And not just a few either. Italy, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia are said to have attended the discussions in Berlin, and the meeting of like minds was sufficiently productive for Reuters to suggest that ‘an alliance’ of countries opposed to the 2035 deadline had now formed.
"The proposal needs changes urgently," drawled Volker-dawg. "A ban on the combustion engine, when it can run in a climate-neutral way, seems a wrong approach for us.” The ‘us’ he’s referring to there is obviously his minister posse - but inevitably he can count on support from a number of large carmakers, too (Porsche reiterated its participation in synthetic fuel research on Monday, too) and many if not most in the PH forums. Clearly emboldened by the talks, Volker-dawg added that assembled nations - or Justice League, as we’ve taken to calling them in the office - wanted an entirely separate category of combustion-engine cars that would be permitted to run on carbon-neutral fuel after 2035.
Given the last-minute nature of the opposition (very unusual in EU machinations), the evident level of support for fundamentally tweaking the synthetic fuel provision is obviously significant. And the Justice League didn’t stop there either. Additional reports suggest the ministers also discussed weakening the stringent emission limits proposed by the forthcoming Euro 7 law, complaining that the recommended timetable for the changes were ‘unrealistic’. Rather than coming into force in mid-2025, the Justice League was proposing a four-year period for the law to take full effect so that the costly burden on manufacturers (and thereafter, customers) might be reduced. Is there nothing these guys can't do? Watch this space.