The sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) cars and SUVs in the European Union was set to be terminated by 2035, but the formal approval has been postponed due to Germany's dissatisfaction, causing outrage among environmental groups. This delay has caused confusion in the European auto industry, as the dissent within Germany's governing coalition has caused a problem. The Free Democratic Party (FDP) in Germany is advocating for synthetic fuels or e-fuels to be allowed after 2035, claiming they are "carbon neutral" and could extend the life of combustion technology. However, the Brussels-based environmental lobby group Transport & Environment opposes this idea, arguing that it is not a viable alternative to electric cars. The delay is also due to the concerns of German unions, who fear that the ICE ban will put hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk. Italy and Poland also oppose the ban.
The agreement was aimed at limiting the sale of only electric sedans and SUVs after 2035, with hybrids and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) being banned. Hybrids combine an ICE with a battery and have limited battery-only capability, while PHEVs have bigger batteries with up to 50 miles of battery-only use. Even the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which is known for its aggressive approach in reducing CO2 emissions, has banned the sale of new ICE vehicles by 2035. However, it has given PHEVs a limited dispensation, as it believes that people in rural areas who cannot afford or cannot use battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) may benefit from PHEVs. Britain has also banned the sale of new ICE vehicles by 2030 but has yet to decide the fate of hybrids.
It remains unclear whether the disagreement within the German coalition is a temporary setback or a more serious obstacle to the agreement. The environmental lobby group, T&E, warns that if the deal is blocked, it will jeopardize a crucial aspect of the European Green Deal - the EU's plan to become carbon neutral by 2050 - and is therefore unhappy with the delay.