Vehicles powered by e-fuels complement rather than compete with electric vehicles and should be considered as a viable alternative on the path to carbon-neutrality, according to today’s guests on the Autocar Business seminar.
Mazda European research director Christian Schultze said: “We believe that e-fuels aren't in competition with the electrification route but complement it. E-fuels can be used already on existing cars - and future cars. Having two pathways to follow can get us to climate-neutrality faster and better.
"There are pros and cons of both. Combustion engines are hard to make as quiet as an EV, while long-distance journeys are harder to make with an EV. Let's use the good points of both technologies to drive forward carbon-neutrality rather than betting on one technology.
Steve Sapsford of automotive consultancy SCE added: "It's not trying to replace our journey to electrification. Banning internal combustion engines might be picking a fight with the wrong enemy. Stopping our dependence on fossil fuels is where we should be focused.”
Sapsford said that the immediate focus should be using e-fuels as 'drop-in' fuels, which can be mixed with existing gasoline: “Drop-in fuel meets the current specification - and the engines, consumer and infrastructure shouldn't notice any difference. It’s perfectly feasible to use [e-fuels] as drop-in fuel.”
Schultze predicted that e-fuels pricing would be on a par with petrol by 2030 in Europe. He said: ”By 2030, it can be around one euro [per litre]. When you factor in CO2 taxation on fossil fuels, I think gasoline prices will become even higher. E-fuels are very very close to being on a par with gasoline prices.”
Shultze, Sapsford and Paddy Lowe – the founder of Zero Petroleum and an ex-Formula 1 engineer – all called on legislators to consider well-to-wheel emissions rather than just tailpipe emissions as a means to achieve carbon-neutrality.
Schultze also said e-fuels should be considered for similar subsidies to EVs: “We need to find solutions that lead us to the CO2-neutral target. What's the reason for ruling out for technologies?”
Speaking on motorsport and e-fuels, Lowe commented: “Motorsport is generally a great platform for pioneering new approaches and new technology and giving them publicity. We’ve had Formula E, I think we will see hydrogen competitions and we will definitely see synthetics.”