German Council Calls For Ban On Internal Combustion Cars By 2030


Last week, Germany’s Bundesrat approved a resolution that calls for a ban on new internal combustion engine cars by 2030. What does that mean? First of all, the Bundesrat, or federal council, is a deliberative body composed of representatives from all 16 of Germany’s states. Its resolutions do not have the force of law. Second, since Germany is part of the European Union, any law actually banning the sale of ICE vehicles would have to be enacted by the European Commission. Third, Germany is perhaps the most influential member of the EU. Citizens of other countries won’t admit that, but it’s true. What Germany says and does often becomes EU policy sooner or later.


So even though this resolution comes down to little more than an opinion, technically, it is still a sign that the tipping point between conventional cars and zero emissions is rapidly approaching. Germany, home of the iconic autobahn, is steeped in car culture. It is home to several car manufacturers that are famous worldwide for building high-performance automobiles — Porsche, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes. Telling those companies they will no longer be allowed to produce cars with gasoline or diesel engines will cause an enormous change in the world of automobiles — not only in Germany, but around the world.

Sharp-eyed readers will note the proposed ban eliminates plug-in hybrid vehicles as well. Many people assume plug-ins will be the transition technology that bridges the past and the future of mobility. They assumed it would be 2040 or even 2050 before the internal combustion engine was finally relegated to the dustbin of history. The vote in Germany would move that timeline forward by one or two decades.

Europe is still firmly committed to diesel power, thanks in large measure to government policies in place for the past 40 years favoring diesel cars. A second part of the Bundesrat vote calls for elimination of those policies, which range from lower taxes on sales of new diesel automobiles to lower taxes on diesel fuel. The net result is that Europeans have made the diesel engine king. If it costs more to buy and drive a diesel, that may be more important in getting mainstream buyers to switch to zero emissions cars than tax rebates and other incentives that cost central governments lots of money.

The resolution approved by the Bundesrat may be nothing more than a suggestion, but it represents a dramatic shift in attitude away from conventional cars and trucks to a future of electric vehicles with no tail pipe emissions. The impact on German car companies will be profound.

Since German car companies have a powerful influence on the global market, any law banning internal combustion cars would have far-reaching effects in other parts of the world as well. A change is coming. You can feel it in the air. What was once normal will be replaced by something entirely new and it will happen quickly once the the change begins. The German Bundesrat is telling us the change has begun.

Source: Forbes | Photo Credit: CleanTechnica

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Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it’s cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.

  • jxxx mxxx

    so the Germans have effectively decreed that bio fuels, that facilitate internal combustion, are not a climate solution.

    These are the same folks who brought us the EnergieWende which costs the average German 39 cents per kwh compared to the US at 10 cents per kwh

    • Bill Peggy

      They may be a solution but they are not zero-emissions. Germany still has egg on its face from the emissions testing scandal and I think this is the knee-jerk reaction to Volkswagen getting sued out of business.

    • KM

      The higher price of electricity in Germany is mostly the result of tax on it which is 50% (!) and not by renewables. You also need to take into account ridiculously low price of natural gas in US which Europe will never see.

      • jxxx mxxx

        Agreed – taxes made necessary b/c of the EnergieWende. If the US emulates the EnergieWende, we will have the same taxes and the same cost per kwh.

        A tax is a cost. Calling it a tax does not make me somehow feel better.

        And Europe will never see cheaper natural gas only b/c it has banned fracking.

    • mmh779977

      you are behind the times.. cost reductions since Jan 2016 now puts kwh at 7 cents/kwh. Please read 21 century literature, not 20th century. try some green sites instead of oil sites to find the new info. e

  • Bill Peggy

    This policy may work in Germany since that is a tiny country which can be crossed in a few hours of driving but it will not work here in the USA. It would take an electric car a week or more of stopping for recharges to cross the USA. Perhaps if all electrics had swappable battery packs and you could stop at a “gas station” to simply swap out your battery for a fully charged one and be on your way the policy might work. Now if the battery technology got to the point where a battery would last thru 14 hours of driving it would be ok too. Then you would simply charge overnight at the hotel.

    Then there is the issue of commercial trucks. There is no way an electric is going to be able to haul a tractor trailer with 10k lbs of goods.

    • Steve Hanley

      I share your concerns, Bill. But a Tesla Model S just did a coast to coast crossing in 59 hours.

      As for trucks, the odds of them going all electric are low from our perspective today. But things are changing and the pace of change is accelerating. I understand you pessimism but I think in 5 years things will look a lot different on this subject.

      Thanks for sharing your input on this.

    • Ed

      Bill – your understanding of long-range electric driving is off the mark. Yes, it takes more planning than just hopping into an ICE vehicle, but an LA to NYC drive is probably only about six hours longer than in an ICE. And if planned for charging during lunch, dinner, overnight stays, there is hardly any penalty at all. Plus, it gets easier every month as Tesla expands their charging options and new vehicles get longer range.

      Over the life of a car, I’ll bet EV owners will spend far less time charging their cars than ICE owners will spend getting gas. Only if we take a long trip do we have to charge away from our overnight home charging setup. So simple.

  • tftillman

    Good Nazis. I almost forgive you.

  • Ed

    Assuming we are all here in 20 years, we my look back on Dieselgate as the turning point that brought zero emission vehicles to the masses. Most of the readership here believes that EVs are inevitable (count me in, too!) and would probably agree that if Euro commits to electrics now, it can remain a player in cars, although not likely to be the leader.

    Leadership is clearly going to the Chinese. US car makers are going to focus on truck-based ICE products as long as possible, so American car buyers will likely end up being supplied by the Chinese as US companies – once again – find themselves playing catch-up late in the transition period to electrics.

    As for Japan, it is up to Toyota to decide what it wants to do. You can read their news releases to realize they are close to their own internal tipping point to go battery electric. I think they will succeed, but will likely trail the Chinese to their own detriment.

    Exciting times. Sorry the US is getting left behind…except for Tesla, of course.

    • jxxx mxxx

      GDP and strong dollar suggest US is in the lead; EU is circling the crapper and over-leveraged, corrupt China is stuck in second.

      The US will allocate resources as needed (here and abroad), now and in the future, b/c that’s what the market does. The American consumer will ultimately benefit if allowed to do so by gov.

  • Dan G

    This is funnier than Obama repealing the Laws of Physics. Just more evidence the Political Class is alive and well.

  • KM

    2030 target for Europe gives plenty of time to reduce the cost of batteries and make EVs cost competitive with ICE, build infrustructure and reduce charging time. I think the bare minimum we will see by then is EVs with 300 miles of real life range, costing no more than diesel equivalents and charging to 80% of capacity in less than 15 minutes. If you take into account the pollution and cost of importing oil to the tune of 1 bln euros a day by EU then allowing sales of new ICE cars at this point in time would be a crime.

  • Chris Overholt

    Yup, the change is coming. Just end the billions in fossil fuel subsidies and suddenly people will make the switch and love it. I’m looking forward to an electric that i won’t have to change the oil in or go to foul gas stations, or have the timing belt changed, smog checked, muffler repaired, radiator repaired etc.

    • jxxx mxxx

      Again with the non-existent subsidies or the standard confuse-normal-extraction-industry-operating-cost deductions-for-subsidies.The only way to end the “subsidies” is to end the corp income tax – I do favor that. I any event why not end all subsidies? I would favor that. Would that not end the subsidies you hate?

      If you are looking forward to an electric, Great! The market has done it’s job; electrics have therefore won. Problem solved. Don’t need to cut subsidies or grant them. And we don’t need gov to pick the winners and losers – you and millions of consumers will do that… and I favor that as well.

  • smartacus

    China alone will cancel any benefits of an engine-free Europe.
    Almost 20 of their cities have higher populations than Norway.

  • jpo234

    The Bundesrat is the upper house of the parliament. German federal law that touches state rights requires the assent of the Bundesrat, it’s not merely a debating club. The Bundesrat can initiate a federal law on its own, however it also has to pass the lower house, the Bundestag.

    Because Germany is part of the European common market, regulations about what products can and cannot be sold have to be made at the European level. Germany is not allowed to ban ICE cars on its own. That’s why this initiative is nonbinding: it’s a call to the European Commission to ban ICE cars.

    Last not least: This is (at least not primarily) about Dieselgate. The more pressing issue is the Paris Climate Agreement. Europe has to substantially cut CO2 emissions from cars to meet these targets.

    • jxxx mxxx

      So If Germany did a Germanexit, they could ban internal combustion engines tomorrow?

      and btw people, why do we say “internal combustion engine”? Is someone selling an external combustion car aka a rocket on four wheels?

      • jpo234

        Re: Germanexit: Not really. The single market and its rules extend beyond the EU (Switzerland and Norway are not EU members but participate in the European Economic Area). The UK currently debates whether Brexit means leaving the single market as well.

        • jxxx mxxx

          Wouldn’t the Brexiteers and Germanexiteers just get together and form their own trade bloc. London would have zero problem with Germany throwing it’s gas car industry in the crapper… the more british made gas-run mini-coopers the merrier in Germany I should say

      • kevin mccune

        We say ICE because that is what it is ,it uses highly refined fuel to be burnt in an enclosed combustion chamber ,versus External combustion that use anything combustible to make heat to power a expansion cycle with some sort of working fluid or gas( a pine knot powered steam engine for example)

    • Steve Hanley

      Thanks for that clarification. Very useful information.

  • trackdaze

    I wouldn’t discount german vehicle manufacturers being behind the push to electric. If battery costs continue to fall for just a few more years they will be cheaper to build. This would already be part of their projections.

    Such a regulation would help overcome internal resistence to change.