Jens Gieseke is a robust cyclist. The CDU transport expert in the European Parliament has already twice taken a fundraising bike trip from Brussels to Strasbourg to support Ukraine. Gieseke likes pedals, including the accelerator pedal in cars with combustion engines. He thinks he knows: “On an emotional level, many people are still attached to the combustion engine.”

Phantom Eco-Travel Allegation

The Christian Democrat-conservative European party family EVP (European People's Party) wants to adopt this in the European election campaign. When EPP leader Manfred Weber (CSU) indicated in December that he wanted to turn the June 9 elections into a kind of referendum on the decision already made to phase out combustion engines in new cars from 2035, the Left Party appointed him. Election candidate Martin Günther as an ecological wrong-way driver.

But for Markus Ferber, Weber's colleague at the CSU, the direction is right: “The combustion engine is becoming a campaign issue for us, because we believe that there are definitely possibilities in the area of ​​alternative fuels,” says the MEP.

The FDP thinks the same as the CDU/CSU

The leader of the FDP parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Christian Dürr, recently stated during a quick visit to Brussels: “The climate-neutral combustion engine must have a future.” His liberal colleague Jan-Christoph Oetjen, like Gieseke, one of the vice-presidents of the Transport Committee of the European Parliament (EP), explains in agreement with the CDU/CSU: “The possibilities of alternative fuels are not “They have been sufficiently valued.”

Such statements raised alarm bells among the German Greens and SPD members of the European Parliament, whose parties govern Berlin alongside the FDP. Environmentalist Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg, also a member of the transport commission, believes: “It is anachronistic to worry about reversing the ban on combustion engines. “Currently there are attempts from many sectors to stop ecological reforms.”

There is fear of a frozen campaign of uncertainty

Like their colleague Thomas Rudner of the SPD, the Greens see a campaign of uncertainty in the definition of “fear of charging”, as Gieseke puts it in these words: “When it's cold, for example, electric cars only charge half electricity. That is not intelligent mobility.”

Rudner believes such objections will not go down well with automakers, who now rely heavily on the production of electric cars. “The economy is not at all enthusiastic about the fact that doubts are being raised about the end of combustion engines. They want certainty in planning and are not interested in renewing their production facilities every three years. Consumer uncertainty would also be a bigger problem.”

Rudner and Deparnay-Grunenberg admit that significant and rapid efforts are still needed to expand the charging network.

Battle of faith for alternative fuels

Gieseke reiterates his intention to charge the European electoral campaign with “fear of fear”: “In the European elections of June 9, 2024, the population will have the opportunity to send a clear signal against the unilateral prohibitionist ideology promoted by the Greens and Social Democrats ”.

The Christian Democrat also claims to defend the interests of the economy and consumers. “The Green Deal cannot simply mean environmental protection,” he argues. The competitiveness of European industry and small and medium-sized companies must also be taken into account. “It will be up to the market and the customer to decide whether alternative CO2-free fuels can be established.”

These fuels are controversial and are also known as e-fuels, green fuels, synthetic fuels or biofuels. The manufacturing methods are different, but the end result has one thing in common: the products can run on conventional combustion engines; Opinions differ as to the actual ecological balance and efficiency.

Green sympathy for e-fuels only for planes and ships

Deparnay-Grunenberg considers alternative fuels to be a largely unsuitable means of individual road transport. She emphasizes: “No one is banning any research on e-fuels for cars. Of course, it is not necessary to support them with tax money. “Things are different with ships and airplanes, where we urgently need these synthetic fuels.”

An EU decision on the approval of e-fuel vehicles is still pending. The next EU Commission may not take up this until after the European elections.

Review clause in sight: the “technological opening” is yet to come

According to their own statements, the CDU/CSU and the FDP are interested in a competition between the best technologies, instead of relying solely on the electronic card from the beginning. They see a review clause of currently valid EU resolutions agreed for 2026 as an opportunity to turn the wheel. Its motto is “technological openness.”

The Automobile Industry Association (VDA) also uses this term. However, large manufacturers such as Volkswagen have already turned towards electric mobility.

Moderate expectations for Stromer sales in 2024

By 2024, it is expected that there will be greater reluctance to purchase electric cars in Germany. Although many providers are offsetting the now-removed state purchasing premium, the federal government's radical shift in funding appears to have a chilling psychological effect.

Consumers are also spooked by accusations that automakers flat out promise they will deliver ranges that their EVs can't even achieve in the reality test: simply “afraid to charge.”

It is indisputable that, despite all the emissions standards, more still needs to be done in the transportation sector from a climate perspective. According to the European Court of Auditors, carbon dioxide emissions have increased there over the past 30 years, while in other areas they have decreased.

In 2021, according to the Court of Auditors, the transport sector was responsible for 23 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the EU, with cars accounting for more than half of this proportion.