The internal combustion engine is threatened with extinction in Europe by 2035. At the same time, some hope that at least synthetic fuels can continue to be used. But how environmentally friendly are e-fuels really?
ACars that run on synthetic fuels (e-fuels) provide minimal savings in CO2 emissions during their lifetime compared to conventional petrol or diesel vehicles.
This is the result of a study published by the expert panel Transport and Environment (T&E). T&E is the umbrella organization for non-governmental 53 European organizations committed to sustainable transport, including Verkehrsclub Deutschland.
The study calculated the entire life cycle emissions from cars purchased in 2030, including manufacturing and operation. A vehicle powered by a mixture of e-fuels and gasoline would reduce its emissions by only 5 percent compared to conventional fuels.
An electric vehicle that is powered only by a battery and electric motors, on the other hand, would cause 78 percent fewer emissions during its life cycle than an internal combustion engine. The calculation basis for the CO2 footprint in the manufacture and operation of the battery cars was the average EU electricity mix, which is forecast for 2030.
The analysis shows that even a vehicle that runs on clean e-fuel produced with renewable electricity would emit more over its life cycle than the electric car. An electric vehicle would be 53 percent cleaner than an internal combustion engine with synthetic fuels. This is mainly due to losses in the production of e-fuel and the inefficient combustion engine.
According to the analysis, a battery-electric Volkswagen ID.3 comes five times longer with the same amount of renewable energy than a VW Golf that runs on e-fuel. A BMW i4 could drive six times longer than a BMW 4 Series internal combustion engine.
T&E thus opposed the proponents of artificially produced e-fuels, which are fighting against a complete phasing out of the internal combustion engine. They see the use of e-fuels as a profitable alternative, especially for regions without enough green electricity to run them and without sufficient income to buy new e-cars. For example, the FDP rejects a ban on the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines from 2035 at EU level. The Liberals demand that vehicles with internal combustion engines can be re-registered after 2035 if it can be proven that they are only powered by e-fuels.