Climate protection solutions are urgently needed in road transport and politicians must make a clear commitment to renewable fuels, according to a learned German body.
Slumping new registration figures, consumer reluctance and increasing doubts among vehicle manufacturers indicate the all-electric approach to passenger cars promoted by European and German legislators has failed, accoding to UNITI Bundesverband EnergieMittelstand.
It holds the view that more technological openness and clear political action for fuel solutions are needed in order to achieve climate protection targets to secure Germany’s position as an automotive location.
Around two thirds of car owners in Germany are not in favour of the politically desired technology shift to electric mobility alone and are in favour of technology openness, according to the DAT report, which surveys the opinions and moods of car buyers and owners in Germany every year and enjoys a high reputation in the automotive industry.
According to the 2024 report, which was presented yesterday, only 39 percent of car owners would consider switching to an electric car in the next five years, compared to 44 percent a year ago. The main reasons cited by respondents for their scepticism towards e-mobility were the limited range, high purchase costs and immature infrastructure.
Drivers’ doubts about e-mobility are in line with the current sharp drop in new registrations of purely battery-electric vehicles. At its annual press conference yesterday, the German Association of the Automotive Industry dampened overly high expectations for BEV sales in Germany in 2024 and instead expects a decline of 14% compared to the previous year.
UNITI Managing Director Elmar Kühn explained, “More and more drivers are realisng that their personal requirements for affordable individual mobility cannot be met by BEVs. The all-electric approach prescribed by European and German legislators actually jeopardises these mobility requirements and is therefore failing in reality.
“A policy that does not meet such important human needs cannot work.” 90 percent of car owners surveyed as part of the DAT Report 2024 said that owning their own car is fundamental to them and guarantees them freedom and independence.
Combustion engines will continue to dominate in the future so a ramp-up of renewable fuels necessary.
The proportion of BEVs in the German car population is currently around 3 percent, while around 97 percent of cars have a combustion engine.
“Despite billions in subsidies in recent years, electromobility has therefore not progressed beyond niche status in Germany,” says Elmar Kühn from UNITI. Both existing and new registrations will continue to be dominated by vehicles with combustion engines.
This makes it all the more important that combustion engines can be included in climate protection efforts, and this requires renewable fuels such as green electricity-based e-fuels or biogenic HVO, which can be credited to new vehicles under regulations. Framework conditions that enable the rapid production and thus market ramp-up of these renewable fuels must be created quickly, demands UNITI.
“Above all, the blanket de facto ban on combustion engines for new vehicles in the EU from 2035 must be overturned, as this ban represents the ultimate stop sign for potential investors in the ramp-up of climate-friendly fuels,” added Kühn.
Exiting the ban on combustion engines will preserve jobs and value creation in Germany.
Manufacturers such as BMW and Stellantis as well as the VDA have recently expressed doubts about the end of the combustion engine ban. The Chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, recently promised to work towards reversing the de facto ban on combustion engines passed by the EU Parliament.
The FDP has sent a clear message in its European election manifesto: “We want to make combustion engines climate-friendly, not ban them”.
According to UNITI Managing Director Elmar Kühn, Germany as an automotive location would also benefit from a move away from the regulatory ban on combustion engines: “Hundreds of thousands of jobs and large-scale value creation in Germany depend on the combustion engine, and our domestic automotive industry is the world leader in this technology.
“Such a position must not be relinquished lightly by betting everything on the more than uncertain card of electromobility. Especially as vehicles with combustion engines could make an important contribution to affordable climate protection in the transport sector if renewable fuels were used. This applies to both passenger cars and heavy commercial vehicles.”