European nations producing automotive vehicles and equipment allied themselves against a proposed European Union (EU) ban on new combustion-powered vehicles set to start in 2035. Their efforts recently won a major concession for their auto and equipment manufacturers.

In a compromise to the original 2022 EU mandate, Brussels has now agreed automakers can continue selling internal combustion engine (ICE) powered products, but they must run on “e-fuel” and be designed to prevent use of gasoline or diesel fuel. The ruling sets the stage for manufacturers of automotive and off-road machinery to use alternatives to “total electric” vehicular power for the foreseeable future in Europe.

E-fuels — like e-methane, e-kerosene and e-methanol — are all fuels in gas or liquid form produced from non-carbon-based electrical energy from solar, wind or hydro-electric power. This raw material differentiates such fuels from biofuels, which are primarily produced from biomass. The e-fuel production process uses carbon dioxide (CO2) or carbon monoxide (CO) in manufacturing and releases a similar amount of carbon into the atmosphere when the fuel is burned for an overall low carbon footprint. Hydrogen also is classified as an e-fuel when it is produced through an electrolytic process powered with renewable — or decarbonized — electricity.

After the EU announced its plan to ban the production of ICE-powered vehicles beginning in 2035, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Poland, Romania, Hungary and Germany refused to ratify the proposal — forcing the recent compromise.

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