Pressure on EU to phase out fossil fuel car sales after Ford announcement

February 25, 2021

Ford has become the latest carmaker to commit to phasing out petrol and diesel engines. The American manufacturer says all its vehicles sold in Europe by 2030 will be electric. T&E has welcomed the announcement, but it warns that voluntary commitments are not enough and only stricter, binding EU-wide CO2 emissions limits for 2025 and 2030 will keep the automotive industry on track with EU climate goals.

Cutting CO2 from cars first became a matter of EU law in 2015, when all carmakers had to ensure their average new car emitted no more than 130g per km of CO2. That was cut to 95g from this year, which has forced manufacturers to move away from petrol and diesel and increase sales of electric cars. A number of carmakers have said they will phase out combustion engines by a given date, such as Volvo (by 2030), General Motors (2035), and Jaguar Land Rover (2036).

Now Ford has said all its passenger electric vehicles sold in Europe will be electric by 2030. It also says all its passenger vehicle models will be ‘zero-emissions capable’, fully electric or plug-in hybrid by 2026, and two-thirds of commercial vehicle sales will be all-electric or plug-in hybrid by 2030.

It is thought Renault may be close behind, after its chief executive Luca de Meo said in a newspaper interview that the French company would make no more fossil fuelled passenger cars after 2035.

T&E’s senior director for clean vehicles, Julia Poliscanova, said: “What is happening in the car market is a result of the EU having set CO2 emissions limits that are forcing technological change. But if the automotive industry is to stay on track, voluntary commitments are not enough. Instead, the EU rules need to be tightened further to make it an industry-wide transition to zero emissions. It is no coincidence that Ford is making its commitments only in Europe, where the emissions regime is stricter than in other parts of the world.”

Poliscanova says the 2025 CO2 target needs to be at least 25% below 2021 levels, and the 2030 target should be 65% below when it is reviewed in June. And, she says, flaws in the EU regulation – such as rewards for plug-in hybrids which emit far more CO2 than advertised – need to be addressed. 

Poliscanova added: “Europe’s policy makers should set an EU-wide phase-out date for the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines, no later than 2035. The EU’s job is to ensure this applies to the whole car industry, not just the few that have recognised early which way the wind is blowing.”

Ford’s announcement will have a big impact on commercial fleets too, with the US firm being the second-largest vanmaker in Europe after Renault.

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