Combustion Engines To Be Banned From 2035

The revolution of electric vehicles has been the talk of the town for several years now. Massive investments, government grants, and other initiatives have pushed EVs from mere gimmicks to mass-produced vehicles. The technology is still far from perfect, but it’s moving at a fast rate, and there is no denying that EVs are here to stay. As a result, the European Parliament is getting ready to officially ban sales of new internal combustion vehicles by 2035. It is a significant move not just for the car industry, but also for legislators.

A wise decision or just wishful thinking? We’ll take a closer look.

The Idea Behind The Proposal

When EVs started emerging and became commercially available in early 2010, governments all over the world noticed that this could be the chance to tackle one of the biggest problems – pollution.

Even though internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs) are participating in global greenhouse emissions with only 12%, in Europe, this percentage is significantly higher at 29%. That is why the European governments were the first to announce bans and effectively fight pollution. When they were still a part of the EU, the United Kingdom was the first to prohibite all new gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2040, and even shortened this horizon at 2030. On the other side of the Channel, the member of the EU agreed that a ban on European sales of ICEVs should be set in 2035.

Noteworthy, all of those legislations are mostly in proposal phases at this point. They are generally agreed upon, but still not effective and therefore can be changed if needed. This ban will cover all 27 European Union member states across Europe, and it is part of a more significant push to have net zero emissions all over the continent by 2050.

The Reaction To The Proposal

While some major European car companies, like Volkswagen, have already committed to this proposal to stop producing ICEVs by 2035, not all of them were too pleased with the proposal. Carlos Tavares, CEO of the Stellantis Group, said that “electrification is a political decision which could bring social and environmental risks and that there are far cheaper and more effective ways of reducing pollution.” He is the most prominent figure in the car industry to openly talk against the proposal.

Interestingly, not only the top managers are against the proposal. Even some European Union members were against the legislation during the discussion, which preceded the voting in the European Parliament. For example, representatives of the Czech Republic are against such proposals since their state is one of Europe’s biggest car manufacturers with massive assembly plants from Volkswagen, Skoda, and Kia.

Recently, the European Parliament’s environment committee backed the plan with 46 votes in favor and 40 against. This tight victory shows that the support is present, but not overwhelming.

“The ban will slow down the use of ICEVs, but it will not stop it, so the positive effect on pollution will be a very slow process.“

The Reality Of The Proposal

The European Union’s ban on ICEVs sounds admirable as it aims to provide a cleaner future for the whole continent, but there are a few essential factors that European legislators haven’t calculated in the equation.

First of all, the European market buys over 10 million vehicles annually. From today until 2035, the vast majority of the sold cars will remain petrol or diesel powered. Even with no new ICEVs on sale, the roads will still be filled with them, so these cars will still be contributing to pollution, gas stations will still be serving those models, and dealerships will have to stock parts and offer services to maintain them. The ban will slow down the use of ICEVs, but it will not stop it, so the positive effect on pollution will be a very slow process.

The second point concerns the significant social and economic impact of such a decision. If the entire EU shifts to EV production, massive layoffs could follow. In general, EVs are easier to manufacture, have fewer moving parts, and mostly need support industries. In addition, the overall price of the average EV is still high compared to the average ICE model, even with all the discounts and government grants.

Third, such an enormous decision must be followed by a perfect network of chargers, energy plans for increased consumption, a stable grid, and most importantly, a solid plan for recycling and disposing of EV batteries. At the moment, the industry and the legislators don’t have a clear view on how to manage these factors, especially the recycling aspect. While the charging network is growing, charging times are still too long compared to fueling petrol or diesel models.

Finally, in reality, the proposed timeframe seems too short to fully implement. Electric passenger cars are already here, but electric trucks, heavy machinery, vans, and other specialty vehicles are still years from being successfully implemented. A complete switch to electricity and moving away from fossil fuels seems unrealistic for such vehicles, as they are used on a daily basis and create a whole support industry for the European economy. The only reasonable solution, if the European Union insists on implementing this ban, is to apply it selectively on passenger cars, but not yet on other types of vehicles.


The European Parliament’s environment committee backs the proposal of the European Union to ban the sales of new internal combustion vehicles by 2035. While the main goal is to reduce pollution, it would still take many years after. In addition, many important parties in the car industry still need to be convinced of the long-term benefits compared to the economic drawback and many other challenges such decision would accompany.

Geoffrey Heyninck,

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