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Is there a place for e-fuels post 2035?

There are areas where replacing ICE vehicles with electric might just not be practical. Examples include 4x4s used by power companies in remote areas and ambulances, both of which might be needed around-the-clock in an emergency and do not recharge quickly. The fact is that these vehicles make up only a tiny part of the car parc and it is here that e-fuels might have a limited role to play.
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Peter Golding

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20 March 2023

SO-CALLED e-Fuels could play a limited role for fleets in the future, says FleetCheck, especially in applications where electric vehicles might remain impractical.

The fuels – designed to be carbon neutral – have hit the headlines over the last week after several EU countries asked them to be included in future car production legislation, circumventing a 2035 internal combustion engine (ICE) ban.

Peter Golding, managing director at FleetCheck, said: “There is talk of e-Fuels being made by companies such as Porsche and Ferrari bringing about a stay of execution for the internal combustion engine and this might be true – but only if you own a Porsche or a Ferrari.

“The bottom line is that these fuels are very expensive and likely to remain so, while their claims to be carbon neutral are in some respects, highly questionable. They do not appear to be a serious mass market answer to the future of either CO2 emission reduction or clean air initiatives.”

However, e-fuels might have a role to play in fleet applications where electrification looks as though it could prove problematic, at least into the medium term.

“We’ve recently been highlighting discussions that we’ve been having with fleets, looking at areas where replacing ICE vehicles with electric might just not be practical. Examples include 4x4s used by power companies in remote areas and ambulances, both of which might be needed around-the-clock in an emergency and do not recharge quickly.

“The fact is that these vehicles make up only a tiny part of the car parc and it is here that e-fuels might have a limited role to play. The resources required to electrify these 4x4s, ambulances and others would be considerable and e-fuels might make more sense, especially if the cost can be brought down from current levels.

“Hopefully, we’ll see battery technology move to a point in the coming decades where electrification of these vehicles is practical but, until then, there will need to be stop-gap solutions. While e-fuels are far from perfect, they look to be a better answer in limited applications than current petrol and diesel options.

“It’s interesting that the recent House of Commons Transport Committee report highlighted the need for pragmatic solutions to low carbon travel and highlighted e-fuels as an option that could well fall into that category.”

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Chris Wright

Chris Wright

Chris Wright has been covering the automotive industry nationally and internationally for 30 years. Following spells with consumer titles he became News Editor of Automotive Management (AM), Editor of Automotive International, International Editor for Detroit-based Automotive News, and Editor of Dealer Update. He has also co-authored several FT Management Reports and contributes regularly to Justauto.com

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