First came California, then Markus Söder. At the virtual party convention of the CSU on Saturday, their party leader Söder carefully distanced himself from petrol and diesel. He said 2035 “seems to be a very good date” to say goodbye – the year from which California will no longer allow new cars with internal combustion engines. So you can show “when the fossil fuel age is coming to an end”, Söder advertised.
The debate about mobility beyond petroleum continues to gain momentum. Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) also spoke up on Sunday. “What we need now are attractive alternatives for cars with internal combustion engines,” said Schulze Süddeutsche Zeitung. For this reason alone, the federal government once again strongly supported the switch from combustion to electromobility with the stimulus package. A support for combustion engines from tax revenues, however, is “not the right way”. However, the minister said nothing about the specific dates on which the last combustion engine will be registered in Germany.
Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) apparently thinks little of fixed farewell dates. It is already clear that the current decade will bring the breakthrough for electromobility, he told the SZ. “How quickly an exit from internal combustion engines is possible in the following years, however, depends on the framework conditions.” This also includes the availability of renewable electricity, because “the most beautiful electric car is of no use on a coal basis”. On top of that, the battery cells remained the “currently greatest bottleneck”. An “expansion plan for electromobility” is therefore necessary as an alternative to the combustion engine. “The better such a plan, the faster the parting from gasoline and diesel can take place,” said Weil, who is also on the VW supervisory board.
Last week California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that from 2035 onwards, no new combustion cars will be allowed in the US state. This is “the most powerful step our state can take in the fight against climate change,” he said. The move caused a sensation worldwide, the most populous state is considered an important market for the auto industry.
Söder also referred to the California advance in his party conference speech, but he left a back door open. It is probably no coincidence that he spoke of “fossil burners” and explicitly praised the role of biofuels. Following this logic, new vehicles with internal combustion engines could still be registered after 2035 – but then they would no longer be allowed to use fossil fuels. Technologically, however, they would hardly differ from the conventional combustion engine.
The greater pressure on German manufacturers is likely to come from Brussels
Nevertheless, the Greens enthusiastically welcomed Söder’s “pleasant change of heart”. “This is a gain in knowledge that we would hardly have expected,” said group vice-president Oliver Krischer. “Hopefully this isn’t just one of his show numbers.” After all, it is “absurd to call for the end of the internal combustion engine, but at the same time to ask for a premium for new ones”.
The greater pressure on German manufacturers is likely to come from Brussels. Because if Europe’s climate target for 2030 is actually raised – from the previous 40 percent greenhouse gas reduction compared to 1990 to “at least” 55 percent – then that should also affect the car manufacturers. Your new vehicle fleets must adhere to average values of CO₂; otherwise severe penalties are imminent. Between 2021 and 2030, the limit values were originally intended to be 37.5 percent stricter. But new proposals by the EU Commission now provide for a halving. That can only be achieved if more and more electric cars replace combustion engines. Environment Minister Schulze says that you are coming “really with giant strides”. And not least because of those EU standards “which we may sharpen again”.