Is the end of thermal cars in Europe really set for 2035?

In an interview with Les Echos, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market announces a review clause to go along with quarterly meetings with all players in 2026.

We believed that the end of new thermal cars in Europe was definitely recorded by 2035. But in a long interview with the daily newspaper Les Echos, the European commissioner for the internal market says that nothing is written in stone.

Reading this interview, it really seems that Thierry Breton It is not in line with the majority of the European Parliament that approved the 2035 ax. A former French Economy Minister apparently fought for the review clause to be included. And he won.

It is planned for 2026. Thierry Breton does not exclude that the alarm will be sounded sooner. “There are too many questions, he warns, and we may need to adapt measures to support the 2035 trajectory in 2026 or before 2026.”

“Switching to electricity will destroy 600,000 jobs”

These possible adaptations will be discussed with all interested players (main car manufacturers, suppliers, trade unions, user associations, cities, electricity operators) which the European Commissioner intends to bring together every three months.

Thierry Breton is very insistent on many problems that need to be solved. He even lists them one by one. Employment: the transition to electricity will destroy 600,000 jobs”, he reminds. The price of electric cars: “27% more expensive than the gasoline equivalent”.

European commissioner warns producers: “We need to lower this price to make it affordable for everyone.”

“Batteries must meet all our environmental standards”

He also talks about the raw materials needed to manufacture batteries. In the next decade, he will need “fifteen times more lithium, four times more cobalt, graphite, three times more nickel.” However, we know that in this area the Chinese have a head start with well-secured supplies.

Thierry Breton assures us that the European Union will not allow us to face this competition. Moreover, it remains unclear how the Europeans intend to do this. He simply explains that “batteries have to meet all the environmental standards to be able to enter our market. And they’re going to be very demanding.”

According to Thierry Breton, who faced the Chinese, the Europeans will not remain powerless. “Just know about batteries, Europe has spent 3.5 times more than China in the last two years. All this can cover our battery consumption until 2030. In total, no less, no more, 100 billion have been invested for this purpose.

Do not completely abandon the internal combustion engine

However, the European commissioner does not forget the problem pointed out by Carlos Tavares, head of Stellantis: the weakness of the electrical infrastructure to charge these cars with energy. “In 2050, 150 GW of electricity will be needed to power electric cars, which is 15% more than our current capacity,” warned the managing director of the Italian-American-French manufacturer. And to add:

As for public charging points, the needs are estimated at seven million terminals by 2030. We are only at 350,000″

But that’s not all. Thierry Breton also urges manufacturers not to abandon the technology that made their fortunes – the internal combustion engine – too soon. “Other continents will experience a much slower transition and will need the cleanest thermal vehicles possible for a long time,” he points out, adding that “even in Europe (…) 20% of the vehicle fleet in circulation will still be thermal” in 2050. “.

“The fuel engine market will remain very important outside of Europe for a long time. That’s why we need to help our manufacturers to maintain it,” explains the commissioner.

Help them without forcing their hand. “I will bring together another group of industrialists on a voluntary basis to discuss the technologies that need to be developed, such as fuel chemistry, mechanics, thermal combustion, etc. I will present it next Wednesday.”

But can European manufacturers still overcome these two problems?

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