France has pointed to the end of the century-old dominance of the internal combustion engine by announcing a ban on petrol and diesel powertrains by 2040.
Swept up in a global campaign to reduce carbon emissions and aware that its capital is one of the world’s most polluted centres, the French government this week said there would be no sales of petrol or diesel vehicles after 2040 in what it called a “veritable revolution”.
The pledge by the new Macron government came one day after Volvo said it would produce electrified versions of petrol and diesel engines as well as electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles only from 2019.
France’s ecology minister, Nicolas Hulot, said car-makers “have enough ideas in the drawer to nurture and bring about this promise ... which is also a public health issue”.
Mr Hulot insisted that the decision was a question of public health policy and “a way to fight against air pollution”.
The French decision, supported by a spark in EV manufacture and proposed designs, is now seen as the beginning of the end of the internal combustion engine’s century-plus dominance of transportation.
A lack of over-arching EV policy is preventing the supply of vehicle model choice for cars priced under $60,000.
France is not alone in proposing a ban on fossil-fuelled vehicles though none have passed any laws.
Norway, which has the world’s highest sales of EVs, has a target of allowing sales of 100 per cent EVs or plug-in hybrid cars by 2025.
The Netherlands has proposed a 2025 ban on diesel and petrol cars. Some German states have said they want to phase out internal-combustion engined vehicles from 2030.
In India, proposals are in place to end ICEs by 2030 and bring in EVs.
The UK has said it wants all new cars to be EVs or “ultra low emission” vehicles – implying plug-in hybrids – by 2040. But it has yet to commit to the plan.
Like Norway and Germany, France has a low reliance on fossil fuel to generate its electricity.
France’s nuclear power stations supply 80 per cent of the country’s energy needs and combined with using nuclear to fuel EVs, would dramatically reduce carbon emissions.
There has been no reaction from the Australian government. Europe vehicle emissions average about 120 grams per kilometre while in Australia, the emissions average 184g/km.
Diesel vehicles made up 32 per cent of all vehicle sales in the past six months to June 30, with two of the nation’s most popular vehicles – the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger – being majority diesel fuelled.
The French move led Australia’s Electric Vehicle Council to urge the Australian government to push for more low-emission vehicles.
In a statement today, the council said it wanted the government to: “provide short-term support to drive the initial demand of EVs through cost support by EV exemptions to taxes such as fringe benefits tax, stamp duty and registration to being down the cost of EVs; implement a strong CO2 standard; implement bulk government fleet purchasing programs and targets for national EV sales in line with the international market”.
The council’s “State of Electric Vehicles in Australia” report, prepared by ClimateWorks Australia, shows “a lack of over-arching EV policy is preventing the supply of vehicle model choice for cars priced under $60,000”.
France’s announcement also coincided with the Bloomberg New Energy Finance report that predicted EVs would dominate the automotive market quicker than previously thought.
It said that EVs would make up 54 per cent of all light-duty vehicle sales by 2040, up from the 35 per cent share Bloomberg was forecasting only 12 months ago.
Bloomberg said such a widespread uptake of EVs would globally reduce oil demand by eight-million barrels a day and increase electricity consumption by five per cent to charge all the new cars.