The European Union is just one vote away from banning the sale of new passenger vehicles and light commercials equipped with internal-combustion engines, including hybrids, by the year 2035.
The proposal to have carbon dioxide from vehicles reduced 100% by 2035 was first made by the European Commission in 2021. It then received support from the European Parliament following a vote held in June. The proposal now has to be voted on by the European Council, composed of the heads of state or government of the E.U. member states, before it can be passed into law. The proposal is part of an overarching plan to see the E.U. become climate neutral by 2050.
However, Germany at present is only backing the proposal on the condition that vehicles with combustion engines designed to run on carbon-neutral fuel will be permitted for sale beyond the deadline. German auto industry association VDA has previously stated concerns that there won't be sufficient charging infrastructure ready by the 2035 deadline and that the proposal's passing would result in alternative measures, such as carbon-neutral synthetic fuels, being abandoned.
Potential sources for carbon-neutral fuel include biomass and newer carbon-capture technology. Porsche is already testing the waters with carbon capture via a pilot plant in Punta Arenas, Chile. Here, a wind turbine generates electricity that is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen via electrolysis. The hydrogen is then combined with carbon dioxide from the air to produce synthetic, carbon-neutral methanol. This methanol can then be used to create synthetic versions of gasoline and diesel and also kerosene which is used in aviation.
Formula 1 also plans to start racing with carbon-neutral fuel as early as 2026.
Even if the proposal passes the final vote, the E.U. in 2026 plans to assess the progress of automakers and operators of charging networks toward achieving the 100% carbon dioxide reduction target and the potential need to review the target.