Currently reading: ICE cars may continue in EU after 2035 with e-fuels exemption
ICE cars running on more sustainable synthetic fuels may have a future in the EU after 2035

Germany has reached a deal with the European Union to allow the continued sale of new ICE cars in the bloc from 2035 as long as they're running on e-fuels.

Sales of new ICE cars were set to be totally banned from 2035 through legislation enforcing a 100% reduction in CO2 emissions from all new vehicles sold. Only low-volume manufacturers (registering fewer than 1000 vehicles per year) were to be exempt.

The final vote on the law – previously expected to be a formality – was postponed after German and Italian diplomats raised objections to the legislated shift to electric cars, demanding an exemption for e-fuels.

E-fuels are made from CO2 captured from the atmosphere and hydrogen so are claimed to be carbon-neutral by their backers.

The support of German diplomats secured by the promised integration of e-fuels means the final vote on the legislation is now expected to pass.

German transport minister Volker Wissing said on Twitter: “Vehicles with combustion engines can also be newly registered after 2035 if they only use CO2-neutral fuels.”

Mazda mx 5 filling with sustainable fuel

This is despite further objections from Italy, which is reportedly seeking additional guarantees for the use of biofuels (made from biomass, such as wood waste). However, it doesn't alone form a large enough barrier to block the legislation.

The integration of e-fuels into the EU’s plan to reduce emissions from transport is likely to be welcomed by manufacturers such as Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche, famed for their combustion engines.

Porsche in particular has been a key driver behind the technology in recent years, having invested $75 million (£61.2m) in Chilean firm Highly Innovative Fuels (HIF).

HIF began operating the Haru Oni plant in Chile in December 2022, producing 130,000 litres of e-methanol for Porsche’s Mobil 1 Supercup race series.

Back to top

However, Porsche currently has no plans to sell the fuel to motorists, reserving it for ‘lighthouse’ projects such as the Supercup, as well as its customer-facing experience centres.

In their current form, e-fuels are also prohibitively expensive for many: Porsche research and development executive Michael Steiner has previously estimated the fuel to cost $44.72 per US gallon (£37.24 per imperial gallon), projecting an eventual cost of $7.57 per US gallon (£6.30 per imperial gallon).

Critics also point out that e-fuels require more energy than is needed to power BEVs on a per-mile basis; and don't completely erase local tailpipe emissions, as BEVs do.

Volkswagen brand boss Thomas Schäfer recently called the debate over e-fuels “unnecessary noise”. With Volkswagen planning to phase out ICE cars in 2033, he asked: “So why spend a fortune on old technology that doesn’t give you any benefit?”

Read more: E-fuel debate is 'unnecessary noise', says Volkswagen boss

Read more: EU's 2035 ban exemption gives small UK sports car makers lifeline

Read more: Editor’s letter: Will e-fuels save the internal combustion engine? (Autocar Business subscription required)

Charlie Martin

Charlie Martin Autocar
Title: Editorial Assistant, Autocar

As a reporter, Charlie plays a key role in setting the news agenda for the automotive industry. He joined Autocar in July 2022 after a nine-month stint as an apprentice with sister publication, What Car?. He's previously contributed to The Intercooler, and placed second in Hagerty’s 2019 Young Writer competition with a MG Metro 6R4 feature

He is the proud owner of a Fiat Panda 100HP, and hopes to one day add a lightweight sports car like a Caterham Seven or a Lotus Elise S1 to his collection.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
LoreleiParis 28 March 2023

Great article, Mike. I appreciate your work, i’m now creating over $35000 dollars each month simply by doing a simple job online! i do know You currently e making a lot of greenbacks online from $28000 dollars, its simple online operating jobs

Just open the link———-> w­w­w.j­o­b­s­r­e­v­e­n­u­e.c­o­m

yvesferrer 28 March 2023

The comments about tidal power are ok; may I add that since the 60s, a large tidal dam has been running in France across the river Rance estuary, producing electricity as the water ebbs and flows. The technology will undoubtedly be much more efficient now and there are also neater ways of installing turbines without massive disruption to the environment.

Just like Norway generates ast amounts of hydro-electricity from its mountains, the UK is ideally placed to generate tidal power, as an island is surrounded by constantly moving water!

It seems that the political will is lacking, as is often the case...

Ancient1 28 March 2023

About time there was some common sense injected into this debacle.

EV is NOT the sole answer, as many countries [a] cannot afford the cost of EV infrastructure  & [b] currently [and will not be decommissioned quickly] the high % throughout the world of electricity generated by dirty coal = dirty EVs.

By 2035, via intense R & D eg. Formula 1 & multinational corps [eg. Sir James Radcliffe], alternate fuels, maybe hydrogen, may well be a viable alternate to the ICE motorist