The European Union's plan to ban sales of new vehicles powered by internal combustion engines by 2035 is seeing unexpected opposition from Germany and Italy.
The two nations, which have some of the largest car markets in Europe and are home to some of the biggest car manufacturers in the region, are threatening to block the EU ban on new ICE-powered cars because the law does not include an exemption for climate-neutral synthetic fuels, or e-fuels.
Germany unexpectedly delayed a key vote on an effective EU-wide ban on new combustion-engine cars after it voiced last-minute objections. Germany's biggest issue with the proposed plan is that it doesn't exempt vehicles that use e-fuels.
The country wanted reassurances from the European Commission that it would come up with a proposal on how e-fuels can be used in new combustion engine vehicles after 2035.
However, since the commission failed to deliver such a proposal, German Transport Minister Volker Wissing said the government in Berlin is unable to give its approval for the wider plan in a final vote by EU government ministers due March 7.
"We need e-fuels as there is no alternative if we want to operate our vehicle fleet in a climate-neutral way. Whoever is serious about climate-neutral mobility must keep all technological options open and also use them. I don't understand this fight against the car and why people want to ban some technologies."
German Transport Minister Volker Wissing in an interview with public broadcaster ARD
The vote that was supposed to take place tomorrow was indefinitely delayed amid fears that Germany could abstain, which would destroy the regulation.
Italy, Poland and Hungary have also signaled their opposition to the ICE ban. Italy's government led by Giorgia Meloni is critical of the plan, with Transport Minister Matteo Salvini saying that it "makes no sense" and puts thousands of jobs at risk.
The transition to EVs is already having a social cost in Italy, with Stellantis announcing 2,000 job cuts in Italy on February 27, or about 4.3 percent of its 47,000 workers. Ford is also planning to cut 3,800 jobs in Europe as it shifts to EVs, and Germany will be hardest hit with about 2,300 positions to be eliminated over the next three years.
According to Bloomberg, at the center of Germany and Italy's opposition are the iconic Porsche and Ferrari luxury sports car manufacturers, which are lobbying for an exemption for synthetic e-fuels. Both brands believe e-fuels will allow them to preserve their heritage and iconic models while complying with the new zero-emissions regulations.
The European Commission will hold talks with Germany and Italy in the coming weeks on how to integrate e-fuel technology into the proposals.