Is the rush to the electric car too fast?


Of which act. At the end of October 2022, Europe validated the transition to electric project. From 2035, all new vehicles on the market will be 100% electric. More hybrids and even less thermals. A radical but necessary decision to meet ecological challenges.

But while the electric car is slowly beginning to convince consumers, the energy crisis and the geopolitical situation are calling into question the model of a 100% electric automobile industry. In fact, the discourses are changing. While we saw the electric car as a miracle solution, its generalization by 2035 brings up unexpected problems.

In an interview with Les Echos, Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, explains that the transition will be more complicated than we imagine. Also, it does not exclude a change of program along the way.

Many challenges

According to Thierry Breton “The generalization of electric vehicles in 2035 constitutes a huge transition for the industry, consumers, employees and the entire automotive ecosystem, including thousands of SMEs”. And to add:

It is certainly the strongest industrial transformation that the European Union has known.

Above all, thehe transition to 100% electric presents many challenges. First that of employment. According to Thierry Breton, “the switch to electric will destroy 600,000 jobs” of the 13 million people living from the automotive industry.

The second challenge is that of consumers. While the crisis is hitting Europe hard, the prices of electric vehicles are still very high. “An electric vehicle is now 27% more expensive than its petrol equivalent, i.e. around 56,000 euros on average, recalls the European Commissioner. We need to bring that price down to make it accessible to everyone. »

Finally, the biggest challenge is resources. “It is estimated that 15 times more lithium, 4 times more cobalt, graphite, and three times more nickel will be needed by 2030” explains Thierry Breton.

The period of energy crisis also reminds us that our resources are not infinite. “In 2050, it is estimated that 150 GW of electricity power will be needed to power electric vehicles, this is 15% more than our current capacity! » worries the Commissioner.

What about infrastructure? While we have 350,000 charging stations in Europe (70% of which are in France, Germany and the Netherlands), “We estimate the needs at 7 million terminals from 2030” he announces.

“Continue to produce thermal cars”

While they are now perceived as an ecological disaster, Thierry Breton recommends that manufacturers “continue to produce thermal cars”. First of all “20% of the car fleet in circulation will still be thermal in 2050” but also because “Other continents will experience a much slower transition and will need the cleanest thermal vehicles possible for a long time”.

But who says thermal does not mean keeping the same engines as today. Europe plans to bring together in parallel “another group of manufacturers to define the technologies that should be developed in fuel chemistry, mechanics, thermo-combustion, etc. » explains Thierry Breton.

It remains to be seen now what direction the European authorities will take. The text voted by the European Union at the end of October contains a review clause in 2026. On that date, industry players and European authorities will take stock of the situation, in order to determine whether the generalization to 100% electric by 2035 is still viable. Appointment made.

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