Electric car: Thierry Breton casts doubt on the calendar

The European commissioner is counting on the 2026 review clause to adjust the extinction of the thermal.

A week after the European Union reached a final agreement on the end of the sale of new thermal engine vehicles in 2035, Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market is casting doubt. In an interview given to several European newspapers, the European Commissioner already seems to be pressing the brake pedal.

He is now emphasizing the review clause in 2026, provided for in this agreement: “I am announcing the creation of a working group to prepare for the 2026 deadline, he said to Echoes. Every three months I will bring together this group made up of the major car manufacturers, suppliers, unions, user associations, cities, electricity operators, etc. Its objective will be to identify and address the difficulties in implementing this mega transformation. The questions are very numerous and we may have to adapt in 2026, or before 2026, the measures supporting the trajectory towards 2035“.

Reassure the industry

The challenges of this shift are known. Thierry Breton recalls them: 600,000 jobs destroyed, electric vehicles sold too expensive, a supply of raw materials under tension for the manufacture of electric batteries and finally too few charging stations… “ We have been making these arguments for two years. It is a pity that they were not taken into accountreacts an expert in the sector. These statements come out of time. They seem above all intended to reassure the industry as to the support that could be put in place to deal with this revolution. Thierry Breton mentions without detailing the safety nets to be installed to avoid the crash, specifying that he will do “everything possible to enforce » the date of 2035.

It is indeed difficult to imagine an abandonment of this deadline. Because on the industrial side, the blow is already gone. As investments are made over the long term, they are already mobilized on this shift. Thierry Breton’s speech is even disturbing for them. “We have been explaining for months to SMEs and ETIs that this decision is final, and that everyone must invest in the new electricity value chain. “, is surprised a player in the sector. The major manufacturers have been preparing for months, each with their own method of adjusting their schedule according to market developments. Within the Renault group, the Renault brand plans to be the first to switch to 100% electric from 2030 with 100% French manufacturing. The Dacia brand, it will eventually play the extensions with thermal, at least until 2035, or even beyond if the legislation changes. And of course on condition that sales of the most accessible and fuel-powered vehicles are maintained. Stellantis claims agility, with multi-energy factories. On the same production line, battery or combustion engine vehicles are assembled. “And if the politicians backtrack, we’ll be ready to adjust“, we explain.

Thierry Breton also calls on the players in the European automotive sector to remain mobilized in thermal energy after the ax date. “I respect the fact that some decide to accelerate towards a 100% electric offer, but I also encourage manufacturers to continue to produce thermal cars, generate quality jobs and remain an export force.he says. Already last April during a visit to Turin, the European Commissioner tweeted:“If the EU ends the sale of thermal engines after 2035 in Europe, this does not apply to the rest of the world. The European automotive ecosystem must remain present on the export market with Clean Euro 7 cars made in Europe.»

Perplexed industrialists

Statements that make industrialists perplexed. How can we suggest that they manufacture in Europe, where production costs are high, thermal vehicles intended for countries on the African continent or South America? Economic nonsense, they say. Especially since all of them already have industrial sites in these regions which will continue to run on thermal power after 2035.

But Thierry Breton has every interest in giving the thermal a little future: it is he who carries the new Euro 7 pollution standard which will be generalized in the next – the last – generation of thermal vehicles. To do this, he declares that he willbring together another group of industrialists to define the technologies that should be developed, for example, in fuel chemistry, mechanics, thermo-combustion, etc.“. But some manufacturers, Stellantis in the lead, have already announced that they will not invest in the equipment demanded by Euro 7 which will increase the price of thermal vehicles by 3,000 to 5,000 euros. Many manufacturers no longer want to invest in thermal…

SEE ALSO – The switch to all-electric cars “is not altruism”, argues Alexis Feertchak

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