Combustion engine off: Paris finds Wissing's e-fuel advance dangerous

Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing insists on enabling the widespread use of synthetic fuels (e-fuels).

Combustion engine off: Paris finds Wissing's e-fuel advance dangerous

Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing insists on enabling the widespread use of synthetic fuels (e-fuels). He receives approval from the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA). Clear contradiction comes from the French Minister of Economic Affairs, Bruno Le Maire, and the Chair of the Economic Experts, Monika Schnitzer.

Wissing told the German Press Agency in Mainz that it was not just about the long-term availability of e-fuels for combustion engines. "It's also a question of whether we keep the know-how in Germany about a technology that we have the best command of in the world today. Or do we simply break off the development of this technology. That's why it's also an industrial policy question," said the FDP politician.

German additional demand postpones EU vote

The EU vote on the planned end for new cars with combustion engines from 2035 was postponed last week due to additional demands from Germany. Wissing had said that Germany could not agree to such a blanket ban on combustion engines at the current time. The EU Commission must submit a proposal on how climate-neutral, synthetic fuels (e-fuels) can be used in combustion engines after 2035.

Le Maire and Schnitzer consider this German blockade to be wrong. "The automotive industry urgently needs planning security for electric mobility in order to be able to align its investments accordingly," said the chairwoman of the council of experts for the assessment of the overall economic development of the "Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung" (Monday). "In plain language, wanting to continue to keep all possible paths open means still not having a solution to the coordination problem: without sufficient charging infrastructure, there is not enough demand for electric cars and without electric cars, there is not enough investment in charging infrastructure. A clear statement from the EU will help here."

France's economy minister disagrees

Le Maire argued in the same direction with regard to the European car industry. “We are five to ten years behind China when it comes to e-cars,” he told the broadcaster France Info. Investments must be made to catch up. He could not tell the big car manufacturers in France, Stellantis and Renault, who had already made great efforts, that they had to switch to e-mobility and then explain that they were still sticking a little to combustion technology.

"It's contradictory from an economic point of view, it's dangerous in terms of industrial policy, it's not in our national interest, it's not in the interest of our national manufacturers and, above all, it's not in the interest of the planet," said the Economics Minister.

On the other hand, VDA President Hildegard Müller sided with Wissing. The EU Commission has not done its homework, Müller told the "Augsburger Allgemeine" (Monday). You have not submitted the agreed proposal for the use of e-fuels. "Politicians must quickly ensure clarity and make a corresponding proposal," added Müller.

Wissing: "Need the synthetic fuels"

Wissing emphasized: "We need synthetic fuels. We cannot afford to do without them." This applies to air traffic, sea shipping and the existing car fleet, because there is no alternative for these but synthetic fuels. "And of course you can also use them permanently for the combustion engine without endangering the climate."

Schnitzer reminded that the production of e-fuels requires "five times the amount of energy as for battery drives". "We will urgently need e-fuels for airplanes and ships, where batteries cannot be used. However, in the foreseeable future we will not have enough renewable energy to use any amount of green electricity for the production of e-fuels, so it will also be used for cars is enough," argued Schnitzer.

VDA boss Müller warned against "committing oneself today to the fact that the production of e-fuels cannot be economical. With increasing production and the corresponding economies of scale, production costs fall, as we have seen with solar energy."

Interview passage Bruno Le Maire