Environment Minister Seeks Common Ground with FDP on E-Fuels in Combustion Engine Discussion

Combustion engine debate: Environment Minister wants to accommodate the FDP on e-fuels

The German Federal Environment Minister, Steffi Lemke, has stated that the conflict within the governing coalition regarding the sale of new cars with combustion engines is only due to the FDP’s distrust of an opening clause in the draft law. Lemke believes that this “misunderstanding” can be quickly resolved to allow the already negotiated EU Commission decision to be signed soon. The vote scheduled for March 7 to end the sale of cars with conventional combustion engines has been postponed after Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) refused to agree. The FDP is demanding a passage in the law that permits passenger cars with petrol or diesel engines to still be registered after 2035 if they exclusively run on synthetic fuel produced from carbon and hydrogen using only electricity from renewable sources (with so-called “e-fuels”).

The draft already includes a recital which permits vehicles that solely run on e-fuels to be approved outside the passenger car fleet limit values even after 2035. The Green politician, Lemke, acknowledges that the detection technology would have to be available for these vehicles, but she believes that the FDP’s distrust in the EU Commission’s willingness to give this option the necessary priority can be dispelled. Lemke expects the approval process to happen quickly and finalised in the coming week.

However, the car industry has already decided in favour of e-mobility. Audi’s CEO, Markus Duesmann, stated that synthetic fuels would not play a significant role in the passenger car sector in the medium-term. Audi intends to phase out the combustion engine in 2033 because battery-electric vehicles are the most efficient method for individual mobility. Duesmann also justified this decision by saying that e-fuels are significantly less efficient to produce, significantly more expensive, and only suitable for forms of mobility in which energy cannot be stored in any other way, such as in airplanes.

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