Study reveals weaknesses in e-fuel cars

Fuel – The internal combustion engine in cars is threatened with extinction in Europe by 2035. However, some car manufacturers and the mineral oil industry hope that at least synthetic fuels can continue to be used.

Cars that run on synthetic fuels (e-fuels) provide minimal savings in CO2 emissions during their lifetime compared to traditional petrol or diesel vehicles. This is the result of a study published by the expert panel Transport and Environment (T&E) on Thursday.

T&E is the umbrella organization for 53 European non-governmental organizations working for sustainable transport. Switzerland is also a member of this organization.

Car life cycle

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.

Cleaner electric cars

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.

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