EU allows e-fuel exemption in 2035 combustion engine ban | Top Gear
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EU allows e-fuel exemption in 2035 combustion engine ban

Germany gets its own way in fight for e-fuel use

Published: 29 Mar 2023

An electric-only future looked increasingly more likely with the introduction of an effective ban on combustion engines from 2035 by the European Union (EU). However, Germany’s last-minute campaign for an exemption on vehicles using e-fuel has given the combustion engine a short reprieve. Maybe.

Now, under an agreement approved on Tuesday 28 March 2023, some cars running exclusively on e-fuels will be permitted to be sold. According to Reuters, which has seen the draft proposal, the wording is such that "such vehicles would have to use technology that would prevent them from driving if other fuels are used".

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However, such a restriction kinda contradicts what Germany is setting out to achieve. To have engines that wouldn't operate on fossil fuels, car makers would have to build new engines. What's more, the text of the originally approved document isn't changing, this is just an addendum of what's already been agreed. Huh.

"We have found an agreement with Germany on the future use of e-fuels in cars," EU Commission VP, Frans Timmermans announced on Twitter on Saturday 25 March. Despite the fact the final vote, originally scheduled for 7 March 2023, was supposed to be a formality, Germany dug its heels in at the eleventh hour - much to the chagrin of some EU members.

Yet, with allies Italy, Poland, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic also set to vote against the blanket introduction of this divisive part of the EU’s proposed Green Deal, the European Commission was under pressure to come to a compromise.

Never a dull day in Europe, e-fuels are synthetically created hydrocarbon-based liquids, perceived by advocates to be carbon-neutral. They use renewable energy sources for production, but are very expensive to produce at scale currently. Porsche will be especially pleased to hear the news, not least because it has a $75-million investment in a wind-based e-fuel company, HIF Global LLC. 

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Our very own Chris Harris shows us how e-fuels are created in this helpful film. Grab a cuppa and settle in for a bitesize science lesson, nerds. If you wanna skip the lecture and see how well e-fuels can power supercars, indulge away. 

2 minutes 25 seconds

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