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Germany’s pledge to increase the use of electric vehicles and bolster climate protection efforts could ultimately result in a ban on combustion-engine cars in the country in the near future.
According to a pact published by Germany’s next government of Social Democrats, Greens, and Free Democrats, the country has committed to halting the sale of combustion-engine vehicles by setting an ambitious goal to get at least 15 million battery-powered cars on the road by the end of the decade.
To meet this number, the country will be required to rapidly increase production of electric vehicles, while likely phasing out cars powered by petrol and diesel in the next few years.
“It can only be achieved if new cars with internal combustion engines are no longer registered before 2030,” Volker Quaschning, professor of renewable energy systems at the University of Applied Sciences in Berlin, told Bloomberg. “It makes sense to stop the registration of gasoline and diesel cars by around 2028.”
Germany currently has an estimated 570,000 registered battery-powered cars, comprising just 1% of the country’s fleet, according to Bloomberg. The country will need to increase production and sales of electric vehicles by 33% a year through 2030 to reach its goal — an effort Germany has made progress on over the past year thanks to incentives and funding that helped double registrations.
However, the country has already struggled to meet early goals surrounding electric vehicle usage, including missing outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s pledge to get 1 million battery-powered cars on the roads by 2020. Germany also has hurdles ahead in raising awareness and accessibility to consumers, who some experts say may be resistant to such efforts.
“There isn’t much substance in the coalition agreement when it comes to reaching such high levels of EV sales in practice,” Giulio Mattioli, a researcher in the department of transport planning at the TU Dortmund University, told Bloomberg. “Consumers will take some convincing.”
Still, if Germany’s aspirations are achieved, its timeline would put it ahead of larger European Union goals to phase out combustion-engine vehicles by 2035.
“According to the proposals of the European Commission, only CO2-neutral vehicles will be permitted in the transport sector in Europe in 2035 — this will have an earlier effect in Germany,” Germany’s coalition document states. “Outside of the existing system of fleet emission standards, we advocate that only vehicles that can be refueled with e-fuels can be registered.”