Europe Effectively Bans Sales of New Gas- and Diesel-Powered Cars by 2035

The 27 member countries of the European Union joined a growing list of states and regions banning new sales of internal combustion cars.

byAaron Cole|
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Sales of gas- and diesel-powered cars likely will be effectively banned in European Union member states from 2035 forward, according to a new deal struck by lawmakers Thursday. The ban requires automakers selling cars in Europe to cut carbon emissions from their cars entirely by 2035, which would effectively prohibit gas or diesel engines under their hoods. By 2030, automakers would have to cut emissions by 55%, compared to 2021 levels, before ratcheting up to carbon-free by 2035, according to Reuters.

Automakers that produce fewer than 10,000 vehicles could be exempted from some restrictions but still need to be carbon-free by 2036. Vans would have a slightly different target in 2030 but face the same 2035 deadline. 

The 27 countries that comprise the EU aren’t the first to outlaw sales of new gas- or diesel-powered cars by 2035, but they are one of the most significant. In addition to large car markets in Germany, France, and Italy, those countries also employ hundreds of thousands of workers in their domestic auto industries.

Few countries outside the EU have adopted similar bans, although many states and regions have. Notably, California, New York, and a handful of other states have similar rules. A province in China adopted a similar ban on carbon emissions, and the country has said that by 2035, half of new car sales would be “new energy,” and the other half would be sales of hybrid vehicles. 

It’s unclear how the European policy may be adopted by its member nations, who’ve already expressed uncertainty about switching to electrified cars when jobs are on the line. France’s domestic auto industry is heavily tied to its government, which has steered right in recent elections based partly on an anti-globalization message. Italy’s new prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, met with EU leaders on Thursday and pressed her stance that the body is less of a union and more of a confederation of states, which doesn’t bode well for sweeping changes like banning certain types of vehicles. 

According to Reuters, the EU is scheduled to consider a measure on carbon-free fuel that could allow some automakers to specialize in fossil fuels-free vehicles, although that’s far less clear or certain than electrification. Earlier this week, Volkswagen announced that by 2033 it would sell only electric cars in Europe, perhaps indicating that it could see the changes ahead. 

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