Ban on the sale of new thermal cars in 2035: are we ready to go 100% electric?

“Instead of selling big electric tanks, which 1% of the population uses a lot of CO2 to produce, we need to make small electric cars for more modest people,” says Nicolas Meilhan. With a good dose of provocation, the expert from the website (database on the electric vehicle market) denounced an “unpragmatic” vote by the MPs.

“You have to think about benefits. We could aim for 80% carbon neutrality by 2030 by decarbonizing daily drives. We will enter a restricted world. We have to save the oil we have left over for the long haul.”

Nicholas Meihan (consultant for

For Nicolas Meilhan, the advantages of the electric car will not convince the urban ailments, but the modest rural households most of the advantages: “At today’s diesel price, yellow vests can opt for a used electric car. It’s more interesting to use, even without instigation.” The additional purchase price is amortized “as soon as you drive 30 to 40 km a day,” the expert estimates.

Marie Cheron, who follows the file for the European NGO Transport and Environment, is less strict with the MEPs’ vote: “Vehicles have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years. It makes sense to end thermal vehicle production fifteen years before the 2050 deadline to fully decarbonize mobility […] it broadcasts a signal internationally. Europe is taking the lead on this transport aspect.”

Will we still be able to drive petrol or diesel cars after 2035?

On June 8, MEPs voted to ban the sale and manufacture of new thermal light vehicles (gasoline, diesel, hybrid and plug-in hybrid) from 2035 onwards. This also applies to vehicles manufactured outside the EU. The case of motorcycles and trucks will be dealt with later.
We can always ride thermal vehicles made before 2035 and resell them… until stock and mechanics run out.

The electric car, a social issue and a major change

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Regardless of MEPs’ decision, France will have 44 environmental zones (ZFE) by 2025, and access for vehicles with tailpipes will be increasingly restricted in cities.
Can the 2035 deadline be postponed?

Climate protectors still fear some “arrangements”. Like the “Italian” vote change of June 8 that differentiates the ax from “all electric” for luxury cars. The European Council dedicated to the environment, meeting in Brussels on June 28th, will provide an opportunity to examine whether the executive is following the Parliament. In 2019, France announced the 2040 deadline for the sale of thermal vehicles in its mobility orientation law, with the idea of ​​giving hybrid models and biofuels a breathing space. The announcements after the presidential election do not indicate that they want to oppose Strasbourg.

“MEPs stuck to the concept of zero emissions. Lobbyists pushed for synthetic fuels that reduce CO2 emissions by just 5%.”

Maria Cheron (traffic and environment)

Questions remain about the fate of light commercial vehicles.

How will the automotive industry adapt?

Most European car manufacturers have already announced that they will no longer produce thermal models from 2030. The automotive sector (industry and services) represented 2.2 million jobs in France in 2018, while national manufacturers directly employ no more than 100,000 people.
“The transition will be difficult for small subcontractors and the network of workshops will be damaged,” said economist Flavien Neuvy, director of the Cetelem Automotive Observatory. Clients “have already relocated everything”, puts Marie Cheron into perspective.

When he does not claim that 100% electric will save all jobs in the automotive industry, Clément Molizon, deputy general manager of Avere, the interprofessional organization dedicated to electric mobility, insists on “battery factory projects launched in France and the recycling scenarios for a certain number of production stages”. Notably, Renault will produce its electric Superfive in Douai.

Flavien Neuvy remains skeptical: “We forget that the Chinese manufacturers who make the batteries will also build good, very competitive electric cars.”

Will the purchase price of electric cars exclude some French people?

Earlier this year, Stellantis boss Carlos Tavares criticized the “political decision” for all-electrics, which risked making the “individual car inaccessible for the middle class”. “We will have a demand for raw materials that will explode and will affect prices,” Flavien Neuvy is certain.

“Thermal cars, which are increasingly resembling a computer with four wheels, are also experiencing a sharp increase in the cost of raw materials,” puts Clément Molizon into perspective. Corporate fleets will supply the used electric car market. Photo Pierrick Delobelle
In fact, the new car, whether electric, thermal or hybrid, is becoming less and less accessible: “The price of vehicles has already doubled or tripled for 15 years,” emphasizes Marie Cheron.

Result: The stock renewal is oriented towards the upper classes of society and companies. “Therefore, we must continue to push the conversion of professional fleets to electric vehicles, which will nourish the used market,” predicts the analyst at the NGO Transport and Environment.

Will there be enough sockets on public roads in 2035? In April 2022 there were 60,000 public charging points for electric cars in France. The goal was 100,000 vehicles by the end of 2021. At motorway service stations, there may still be isolated queues for families with connecting traffic on larger exits.

“New electric cars are increasingly designed for fast charging in 15 or 20 minutes. The use on motorways will be completed by the end of 2023.”

Clemens Molizon (Avere-France)

On the entire French road network: “In 2030 we will have between 330,000 and 480,000 charging points,” adds Clément Molizon.

Currently 90% of charging is done at home.

One of the topics is the “right of purchase” for condominiums. Landlords and co-owners benefit from grants for these facilities.

Is the individual electric car the answer to all mobility needs?

When it’s no longer really a social marker, the “car” still creates “enjoyment,” “hence the success of SUVs,” observes economist Flavien Neuvy, who still finds the personal car “unbeatable” in terms of flexibility of use.
Do we really need 1.5 tonne vehicles “designed for 180 km/h for daily traffic? asks Aurélien Bigo, energy transition researcher at the Louis Bachelier Institute.

Switching from thermal to electric is not the only possible way to decarbonize mobility: “This also includes reducing the daily kilometers, switching to other means of transport and better fueling of vehicles through carpooling and car sharing”, lists Aurélien Bigo.

bonus Why the sale of new thermal cars will be banned in the European Union in 2035

Julien Rapegno

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