Automotive: Will we still be able to drive a thermal car in 2030?

Since the beginning of the millennium, the idea of ​​a definitive ban on the sale of new thermal vehicles has materialized … to the point of appearing in the legislative package announced by the European Commission in July 2021. Yes the 2035 deadline for its implementation is still being fiercely debated, the signal is clear. European manufacturers are announcing one after another the abandonment of traditional engines. So it looks like the switch to electricity has taken place.

The timing of the disappearance of service stations and garages capable of servicing piston engines is, however, far from over. Firstly because the measure announced by the European Union does not refer to vehicles in circulation. The scenarios – however ambitious they may be – on which it is based, in fact, evoke a total decarbonisation of the transport sector … only in 2050.

A long-term substitute

Today, fossil fuel vehicles make up the vast majority of the French fleet – 55.5% diesel – while their average age is eleven years, according to a study by the AAA (1) published in February. “We must keep in mind that the car fleet is characterized by a great deal of inertia: its complete replacement by other electric vehicles will take place in a very long period of time.”believes Jocelyn Gombault, project manager at the Automotive Service Professions Observatory. “The question of whether we will still be able to maintain our thermal vehicle in 2030 or even 2035 simply does not arise. There will surely be a drop in activity, but the problem will arise mainly for manufacturers and their employees. in this sector, two-thirds of jobs will have disappeared by 2035, according to our most pessimistic forecasts. ” he continues.

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The same story on the side of the oil tankers in terms of fuel availability. “As for France, there is no concern about the future: either the existing refineries will guarantee production, or they will close, but in this case, we will be able to import. The excellent logistics of French oil allows us to take this into account.“, confirms Olivier Gantois, president of the French Union of Petroleum Industries. Standardized worldwide, fuels will effectively continue to be produced for Asia, Africa and the United States, regions that, unlike Europe, have not planned to condemn thermal.

In short, it is the growing number of low-emission zones that are likely to cause the most problems for French users. The one in Greater Paris, which includes the capital and its inner suburbs, provides for a ban on all petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030. It remains to be seen whether the measure will actually be applied when the ban is officially in force for Crit’Air. 4 and 5 are simply not implemented and Crit’Air 3, scheduled for June 2022, is already six months behind schedule.

(1) www.aaa-data.fr

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The difficult beginning of the reform

Replacing the engine of thermal cars with its electric equivalent and batteries: the idea seems attractive and in line with the ambitions of recycling and circular economy. In 2020, the state even issued a decree in this regard that encouraged the conversion of vehicles over five years with the payment of a conversion premium of 2,500 to 5,000 euros. Many start-ups have also embarked on the adventure and offer the conversion of very popular models such as the Renault Clio, Volkswagen Polo, Fiat 500 … Unfortunately, the approval process of the conversion kit, long and very because, it drastically limits the number of eligible models in 2022. Today, only … the Citroën 2CV has been the subject of a real marketing of about ten copies.

This is not the only obstacle to the development of this sector. The lack of autonomy of the vehicles and the limited performance must also be taken into account, knowing that their final weight cannot exceed their original mass by more than 20%. Not to mention the absence of a real second-hand electricity market. Consequently, they are, in short, high-end projects, referring to highly sought-after collectible cars aimed at a very privileged clientele, which seem to be the most economically viable.

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