12-11-18 Fuel use trends
Nine countries say they’ll ban internal combustion engines.
The internal combustion engine appears to be on its last lap. More than nine countries and a dozen cities or states have announced what the media has called “bans” in the last few years. Copenhagen mayor Frank Jensen wants the city to end all new diesel cars starting next year. Last December, Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City said they would remove diesel cars and vans by 2025. Norway will phase out conventional cars by 2025, followed by by France and the United Kingdom in 2040 and 2050 (2032 according other sources), respectively.
Yet despite all these commitments, no country has actually passed a law prohibiting anything. ”There is literally not a single ban on the books in regulatory language that is enforceable in any auto market in the world,” Nic Lutsey, director of the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), said by phone. That doesn’t make them meaningless. Politicians, most of whom will be out of office by the time any bans take effect, can’t tie their successors hands decades into the future. US president Trump, for example, is already busy trying to revoke California’s authority under the Clean Air Act to set its own pollution standards and electric vehicle mandates. If successful, Trump would negate bills such as the one proposed by the state legislature last year to end manufacturing and registration of new gasoline cars in California by 2040.
But the rhetoric is telling car makers to get ready once the technology is ready. “These governments are signaling to the world that they need to move to zero emission vehicles to meet their climate and air quality goals,” he says. “All their [emissions] models say the same thing: They can’t meet their climate and emission goals without zero-emission vehicles as quickly as possible.”
Even without specific laws, countries are relying on carrots and sticks. Most of the so-called “bans” on combustion engines are actually restrictions on the sales of new diesel vehicles, along with financial incentives or penalties to accelerate sales of electric and alternative-fuel vehicles in the coming years. European countries have passed the most aggressive policies to tip the scales against gasoline and diesel. Norway, where 52% of new car sales were electric in 2017, gifts EV buyers thousands of dollars in perks such as free or subsidized parking, tolls, and charging, as well as generous tax breaks. In the UK, where buyers also get tax breaks for clean vehicles, London is expanding an “ultra low emission zone,” imposing a £12.50 ($16.39) daily fee for cars deemed too polluting (generally conventional vehicles registered after 2005). These standards will go into effect next April, and only tighten over time.
Elsewhere the pronouncements are, at best, aspirational, said Lutsey. Most amount to “sound bites, ministry quotes, responses to media questions after speeches, and general web spin,” he said. India’s 2030 target for all-electric vehicles is contingent on falling costs. China has merely started “relevant research” for a timeline to phase-out internal combustion engines. Even Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, which has called Britain’s and France’s 2040 phase-out of fossil-fuel powered cars “the right approach,” refused to pin down a date.
The effects are rippling through the auto industry regardless. In the last two years, car makers have rushed to roll out plans to electrify their vehicles. Daimler will spend $11.7 billion building 10 all-electric and 40 hybrid models with plans to electrify its entire lineup, reports Reuters. Volkswagen AG aims to electrify its 300 or so models by 2030. Ford says it’s “all in” on EVs, while GM is adding two more electric models alongside the Chevy Bolt, eventually ditching the combustion engine altogether. China’s Volvo is only releasing electric models starting in 2019.
Read more here