Following the agreement between the European Parliament and the EU Council on the CO2 Emissions Standards for cars and vans, EU Commissioner for Industry Thierry Breton warned of the “gigantic disruption” that the expected ban on combustion engines will bring to one of the EU’s core industries. 

The switch to electricity will have so many implications for upstream and downstream companies that the EU cannot afford to fail. Should there be issues in the process, the EU will need to review its phase-out date “without any taboos. The review clause to be activated in 2026 will act as an emergency brake which will allow the 2035 phase-out date to be pushed back, if necessary”. Commissioner Breton highlighted the following arguments:

  • Some 600,000 jobs will be destroyed in the process of switching from combustion engine to electric cars. We are not just talking about the big car manufacturers - who will surely manage - but we are talking about the entire ecosystem and the production of electricity.
  • To produce all those electric cars to replace traditional ones, we will need 15 times more lithium by 2030, four times more cobalt, four times more graphite, three times more nickel. So we will have an enormous consumption of raw materials, and we need to study all this.
  • If we want all cars to be electric, we will need 150GW more electricity production per year - that means 20 to 25 percent more electricity than we produce today in Europe. So, we will have to massively increase electricity production. But it will also have to be carbon-free electricity — if we do it with coal or gas it makes no sense.  By 2030 we want 30 million electric vehicles on Europe’s roads. That means we need around 7 million charging stations. But today we only have 350,000, of which 70 percent are in only three countries — France, Germany, and the Netherlands.
  • To be successful,  focusing on “key KPIs” will be necessary, from the roll-out of charging stations across the EU, to the ramp-up of raw material production, and these should be developed by Commissioner Breton’s team together with stakeholders
  • Electric cars are dirty too and must also become cleaner. There are additional emissions, which are very important - those from tires and brakes, which emit particles that are very damaging to health. So even after 2035, when we will no longer sell combustion-engine cars, there will be emissions. Electric vehicles are around 40 percent heavier than traditional ones, because of the batteries, so they emit much more particles from brakes and tires than combustion cars.
  • The EU should not give up on non-EU markets that will continue to buy combustion engine vehicles, notably Africa.


Weber Shandwick