France has declared ‘war’ with Germany over major disagreements to cease sales of new petrol and diesel by 2035. Often referred to as the ICE ban. Thankfully the ‘war’ will be fought at a political level, the dispute has been brewing for some time after Germany and Italy joined forces to support a clause to allow the continuation of new petrol and diesel car sales beyond the 2035 ICE ban. Germany and Italy say e-fuels are the carbon-neutral alternative to continue the sale ICE-powered cars after 2035. However, the French government is opposing pro-ICE drum-beats citing that the original agreement signed by all EU nations would be rendered worthless and hypocritical. Bruno Le Maire, the French Finance Minister, pulled no punches as he spoke to the media during a recent interview:
Le Marie said: “We cannot say there is a climate emergency but retreat from the transition to electric vehicles. We are ready to fight on this as it is an environmental mistake and an economic mistake.”
German Finance Minister, Christian Lindner, later countered that he is ‘concerned for the people’: “He (Le Maire) knows full well that car mobility could become more and more expensive for many hard-working people. We must take these concerns seriously.”
Le Maire is concerned that Germany and Italy will cause the European Automotive sector to lose the race in developing a viable next-generation EV industry to China. China’s EV industry and infrastructure is at least 10 years ahead of Europe.
Le Maire added: “Saying we will go toward electric but remain a little with combustion is economically incoherent and dangerous for industry. It’s not in our national interest, it’s not in the interest of carmakers, and it’s not in the planet’s interest.”
Le Maire is correct, while Germany and Italy are revising an agreement they signed up to, the e-fuel strategy they are promoting will only ever be available to those who are rich enough to pump the fuel into their cars. The first step to e-fuel adoption is to establish an e-fuel infrastructure because it currently doesn’t exist.