Mobility Portal, Spain
Date: July 10, 2024
Is electromobility hanging by a thread? Centre-right wave creates a new industrial scenario for EVs in the EU
By Lucía Colaluce
European Union

Is electromobility hanging by a thread? Centre-right wave creates a new industrial scenario for EVs in the EU

The recent political shift in the European Union threatens to halt progress towards electric mobility, jeopardizing the ambitious goals of the European Green Deal and leaving Europe vulnerable to the rapid advances of China and the US in the clean technologies sector.
EPP's new industrial vision for electric vehicles

The transition to electric mobility in Europe, crucial for the sustainability and competitiveness of the continent, could be at risk, but… why?

Members from the European People’s Party (EPP).

Doubts arise following the recent victory of the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) in the European Union (EU) elections.

While the results are provisional, the Christian Democratic faction is reported to have secured 188 seats according to the European Parliament.

Carlos Rico, a Police Officer at Transport & Environment (T&E) in Spain, expresses concern about the results.

“The proposed new industrial policies and the possible lifting of the ban on the sale of combustion engine cars and vans from 2035, driven by the EPP, threaten to dismantle one of the main strategies of the European Green Deal,” he asserts.

Carlos Rico, Police Officer at T&E.

As a side effect, Rico suggests that this situation could lead Europe to lose its competitive edge against the US and China in the race for leadership in clean and sustainable technologies.

This trend towards right-wing political orientations is not a mere coincidence, as the advance of such parties was notable in several European countries.

In Italy, Giorgia Meloni led the national polls, as did the Freedom Party (FPÖ) in Austria, gaining considerable ground.

Belgium saw a similar rise with Vlaams Belang, reaching such popularity in polls that Prime Minister Alexander De Croo resigned.

Similarly, in Germany, Alternative for Germany (AfD) consolidated as the second most important political force, and in the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’ party also gained significant support, positioning itself as the second strongest in national elections.

What is concerning about this phenomenon is that sustainable mobility takes a back seat in these ideologies.

“It is crucial to maintain legal certainty for this transition, allowing manufacturers to continue moving towards a 100% electric future and thereby avoiding jeopardizing the billions invested in that future,” Rico argues.

Likewise, the shift towards eMobility received a significant boost with recent announcements by electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers regarding the availability of more affordable models.

Volkswagen, for instance, announced the launch of compact EVs produced in Europe, priced at around 20,000 euros from 2027.

According to the executive, “These are very positive announcements that we have been waiting for a long time.”

The reality is that electric cars cannot continue to rely almost exclusively on large and “premium” models simply because they generate the most profit for manufacturers.

For electric mobility to become a reality for the majority of the population, it is essential that manufacturers offer smaller, basic, and affordable models.

However, the “trade war with China” only presents challenges for these advancements.

In fact, on June 12, the European Commission provisionally concluded that China’s zero-emission car supply chain is receiving unfair subsidies, posing an economic threat to EV manufacturers in the EU.

In response, the Commission announced preliminary levels of countervailing duties it would impose on imports of Asian EVs, including those produced by BYD, Geely, and SAIC.

Regarding tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles, the T&E considers them a positive but insufficient measure on their own.

“They will not be truly effective unless accompanied by a broader industrial policy that incentivizes investments in electrification and promotes manufacturing in Europe,” Rico concludes.

He points out that, in the short term, this could have a negative effect by hindering the entry of economic models manufactured in China.

He adds that this measure is oriented towards the future, with the intention of creating a competitive value chain in Europe in the long term.

Rico warns that “if we allow models manufactured outside Europe to completely take over the European market, it will be very difficult to achieve a green reindustrialization that allows us to maintain current levels of employment,” an essential pillar of the European Green Deal.

In summary, Europe’s stance should focus on incentivizing local production.

The interviewee states that “this is the only way to reduce our energy and technological dependence on third countries,” emphasizing the importance of this independence for security, economy, and quality of life on the continent.

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