Automobile: the German about-face on the end of the heat engine divides the industry


The political weight of Porsche and Ferrari is far greater than their market share in Europe. By leading the German and Italian governments to refuse, to everyone’s surprise, to ratify the final agreement on the banning of heat engines by 2035, these two elitist firms have contributed to destabilizing a process that involves the whole European automotive industry. A situation far from being appreciated by most other manufacturers.

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Oliver Blume, president of the Volkswagen group and number one of Porsche, assures that synthetic fuels, criticized for the high energy consumption necessary for their development and their production cost, must make it possible to save heat engines from banishment. “There is no conflict between increasing electric mobility for the future and using synthetic fuels, he assured, Tuesday, March 14. As part of a comprehensive approach to decarbonisation, we need solutions for existing combustion engines on the roads. »

By openly contesting a European transport decarbonization program which mechanically leads to all-electric, the boss of the Volkswagen group knows that he can play on the dissensions within the Berlin coalition. These led Volker Wissing, (Liberal Democrat) Minister of Transport, to play the card of defending the thermal engine car, a sacred cow across the Rhine.


Oliver Blume says out loud what some builders were quietly thinking. In addition to Ferrari, the Japanese Mazda and Toyota – three brands that have made little progress on the switch to electric – favor “e-fuel” as a solution for “greening” the internal combustion engine, which will however still emit CO2 and nitrogen oxides, in particular.

The other German groups are not on the same wavelength, which explains their silence. BMW’s position is mixed. The Bavarian manufacturer has invested 12.5 million euros in the start-up Prometheus Fuels specializing in synthetic fuels, but has not stepped up to join the supporters of a paradigm shift.

Even more reluctant, Mercedes, which has embarked at great expense on the all-electric strategy, does not intend to deviate from this trajectory. Nissan, the only Japanese firm to have long relied on battery-powered vehicles, is not more interested in synthetic fuel.

Tactical Considerations

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