Germany and Italy are rewriting Europe’s electric car mandate with synthetic fuels
Germans and Italians are passionate about their cars and the local industries that build them, and they will not be going all-electric without a fight.
Both countries have said they will reject a proposed phase-out of new internal combustion engine car sales by 2035 if the rules do not allow for the use of carbon-neutral e-fuels.
E-fuels are made by sequestering atmospheric carbon and combining it with water to create a combustible liquid fuel.
When the process is powered by zero-emissions energy, like wind or solar, burning the fuel results in no additional carbon dioxide being added to the atmosphere.
FORD COULD SAVE THE MUSTANG AND F-SERIES FROM GOING ALL-ELECTRIC WITH SYNTHETIC FUEL
Porsche has invested in a factory in Chile that produces the synthetic fuel, will be using it in a racing series it sponsors this year, and has already demonstrated how it can be used in a car made for gasoline without any modifications.
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Now, Italy wants to see biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel also except from the regulations.
“Italy would not accept an unduly restricted interpretation by the Commission of ‘CO2 neutral fuels’, that includes only e-fuels and not biofuels,” three Italian ministers, of transport, environment and enterprises, said in the letter dated March 21 that was seen by Reuters.
Biofuels can be carbon-neutral, as the organic material used to make them also absorb carbon from the atmosphere, but only if it is not blended with a fossil fuel like E85. They also need to be produced with green power to be considered net-zero.
According to Reuters, the European Union has already started drafting a proposal that would allow for e-fuel and biofuel vehicles as long as they are equipped with technology that would be able to prevent them from using gasoline, diesel and other traditional fuels.
“We are interested in a quick clarification, but it must be resilient and binding. We are currently examining this carefully,” a German Transport Ministry spokesperson said.
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Formula One is planning to switch to e-fuels in 2026, which Ford CEO Jim Farley said was part of the draw for the company to rejoin the series with Red Bull, as he sees it as a possible solution for future heavy trucks and performance cars.
Volkswagen-owned Lamborghini is also exploring them as a way to preserve sound and feel of its high-revving engines, which are a big part of the draw for its customers.