VSe is not a detail, while the low cost car has been praised for the past twenty years as the model of reasonable mobility, getting rid of the useless swelling of the superfluous, this model has lived. Provided that all the Member States of Europe ratify the radical vote of the Parliament which condemns as of 2035 the sale of any new model equipped with a heat engine, all Europeans who acquire a new car on that date will be condemned only one choice: the electric car.
We have already extensively commented here on the advantages and disadvantages of each of the technical formulas. But one has never been condemned by the other and it took a diktat from the European Parliament to initially impose the electric car. A door remains ajar for other solutions with more distant emergence such as hydrogen, but we have understood that it is the heat engine that we had to deny.
The combustion engine battle rages on in the European Parliament
According to the adopted text, 100% of new vehicles must indeed be “zero emissions”, imposing on users and manufacturers a revolution that many do not want. In any case not according to this cleaver calendar which jeopardizes European technological superiority in the sector and reshuffles the cards in favor of its competitors, much less well placed until then. Incidentally, it should be noted that the so-maligned so-called “automotive lobby” has become a balloon, dieselgate helping, and that it is indeed a green lobby that dominates the debates today.
The Dacia model in play
But it is not so sure that all the Member States validate this plan without flinching, in particular Romania, country of rustic Dacia (the Spring electric is made in China). And this even if Germany seems for its part to have negotiated a spectacular turn in recent days, even questioning the exception of free speeds on 70% of motorways across the Rhine. It’s a good way to reduce the handicap of electric cars with regard to thermals like the plan that would follow with a harmonized reduction in speeds to 120 km/h, or even 110. Since we can no longer drive fast and for long without stopping, what’s the use of bracing yourself against the electric motor?
The refractory will still be able to cling to the second-hand car since everything that drives before 2035 will be able to continue to drive afterwards with, we bet, restrictions on access to urban centers already in place with low-emission zones ( ZFE). Nevertheless, Europe will be the first major market to swing ahead of China and the United States, but Norway has already beaten the call with a deadline of 2025 and Israel, sensitive to oil supplies, in 2030. On the other hand , South America, Africa, Central Europe outside the EU or the rest of Asia and Oceania do not seem in any hurry to go into the battery camp.
Who will pay for the electric car at 100 euros per month?
There is a good reason for this, the electric car is a car for the rich and requires charging infrastructure that is as heavy as it is costly. And this even if the Macron plan of a car at 100 euros per month has been announced. Because shortages are looming and, despite the opening of battery production units, raw materials will run out. Elon Musk would thus have the project to buy a lithium mine to supply his two million Tesla produced per year. Carlos Tavares has already sounded the alarm for 2024, seeing the growth in sales of electric cars rising faster than that of available batteries.
Electrics helped until when?
Under the effect of European standards, public subsidies and the proliferation of hybrid and electric vehicles, gasoline-powered vehicles are declining, victims of the scarcity of components. But it will be noted that the buyer does not give up and is patient for his delivery or, possibly, chooses light hybrids. These are above all a matter of opportunism and represented a quarter of European sales in the first quarter of 2022. It would be wrong to equate them with electric cars as their autonomy on this energy alone is derisory.
Plug-in hybrids represented 8.9% of the market, and pure electrics 10% (+53.4% over one year). A spectacular leap but starting from nothing, we have to put things into perspective. Rather high-end for the moment, they are more and more numerous on Dutch, Swedish or German roads in particular, where the standard of living is higher than that of France. But they are far from being zero emissions, their emissions being even comparable or worse than those of a gasoline car when their owner does not recharge them. And you can get tired indeed, because you have to do it almost every day.
A big question remains: “What will push a household to switch to two electric vehicles? says Eric Kirstetter, from the Roland Berger firm. “People are likely to cling to a combustion vehicle for fear of weekend or holiday trips. Wise precaution, the last weekends of Ascension and Pentecost having showered the enthusiasm of some recent converts, some of whom are returning to the thermal car.
Electricity, a luxury product?
To combat the price differential between thermal and electric, Europe has found the solution: it has taxed the former and subsidized the latter. However, parity between the two techniques will not be achieved for several years thanks to volume effects, the Stellantis group (Peugeot, Fiat, etc.) estimated it at the start of the year between 2025 and 2030. Approximate and this does not take into account the prices of many materials which have since exploded.
“Electric will remain structurally quite expensive for a while. We are moving towards a market that is increasingly aimed at people who have more means,” warns Eric Kirstetter. It should at the margin promote the emerging second-hand market with the unknown residual state of the batteries (one third of the value of the vehicle) while a tank of gasoline or diesel does not pose any question. The Argus coast has a bright future ahead of it.
France, Germany, Spain, Italy… In each of these countries, the automotive industry represents a significant share of the industrial jobs currently under threat. The manufacture of electric vehicles requiring less labor than thermal ones, the energy transition could destroy many jobs, despite the establishment of battery factories. In France, for example, the switch to electric could cause the loss of 65,000 jobs out of the 200,000 in the sector, according to the automobile platform (PFA).
The paradox of electricity is that it seems very virtuous when used in town, but it is much less so for countries where raw materials are extracted. This does not prevent UN climate experts (IPCC) from arguing that “electric vehicles powered by low-carbon electricity offer the main potential for decarbonizing land transport, in life cycle analysis”, that is to say, even including the manufacture of batteries. There remains the production of electricity itself, more advantageous in France with nuclear than in Germany or Poland, subject to coal.