The traffic light coalition is still unable to agree on a common course for the planned EU-wide phasing out of combustion engines from 2035. In particular, the positions between the Green Ministry of the Environment, which clearly advocates an end, and the two FDP-led departments of transport and finance diverge widely.

According to Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP), the federal government will not agree to a ban on the sale of new cars with combustion engines from 2035 at EU level.

At Industry Day in Berlin on Tuesday, Lindner said there would be regions of the world where electromobility could not be introduced in the next few decades. If there is a ban on the new registration of the combustion engine, then it will not be further developed, at least not in Europe and Germany.

That’s why he thinks a decision to de facto ban the combustion engine is wrong, said Lindner: “I’ve therefore decided that I in the federal government, that we in the federal government, will not agree to this European legislation.”

Lindner also received support for his stance on Tuesday from FDP Transport Minister Volker Wissing, who had already been very critical of the EU plans in the past. Wissing said at Industry Day that Finance Minister Lindner had found the right words. There is no universal solution to achieve climate goals. Various drives are necessary. “That’s why we have to remain open to technology.”

Just a few hours earlier, Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) had declared at an event on the mobility transition that the “entire federal government” had agreed in March to “support the EU Commission’s proposal in all forms, from 2035 only zero-emission vehicles to allow”. It needs climate-friendly drives for the car, she said.

“And that’s why we also need the approval of the Federal Government and Germany for the Commission’s proposal to phase out the combustion engine in 2035.” Regarding Lindner’s statements, Lemke told the German Press Agency in the evening: “I strongly advocate that the Federal Government should stick to its previous common line to the end of combustion engines planned in Europe from 2035.” The proposals of the EU Commission and the compromises reached are reasonable.

The EU Parliament wants to ban the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines from 2035. A majority of MPs had voted in favor of manufacturers only being allowed to bring cars and vans onto the market that do not emit any climate-damaging greenhouse gases from the middle of the next decade.

The President of the Association of the Automotive Industry, Hildegard Müller, told the dpa: “It is good that the debate on the EU’s combustion ban is finally being held in the federal government. So far, the EU has not presented a plan on how to create the conditions for only electric cars to be sold from 2035.” A nationwide, reliable charging infrastructure throughout Europe is a mandatory requirement for consumers. “In Germany we are a long way from that – and with this poor record in a European comparison we are still better than almost everyone else.”

Basically, it is also necessary to think outside the box, beyond European borders, says Müller. “In order to achieve the climate goals in traffic, all technologies are needed.” The different technologies made their contribution to sustainable mobility in different regions. “This also includes synthetic fuels to decarbonize the vehicle fleet.”

The dispute within the coalition, which has been smoldering for weeks, is primarily about the use of synthetic fuels, so-called e-fuels. Wissing insists that after 2035, vehicles with combustion engines can be newly registered if they can be proven to be fueled only with e-fuels.

When produced using green electricity, e-fuels do not emit any additional greenhouse gases, but have so far only been available in small quantities.

Lemke believes that this type of fuel is only suitable in certain areas, since it requires more electricity to produce than cars that run on electricity. Lemke emphasized on Tuesday that e-fuels could play a role in “special vehicles such as excavators or the fire brigade”.

Environmental groups criticized the attitude of the FDP ministers. “The internal combustion engine is a discontinued model. Christian Lindner will not be able to change that either. With an abstention in the EU Environment Council on the important issue of phasing out combustion engines, Germany would be doing a disservice to the companies that have long since made their way towards a battery-electric future,” commented BUND Managing Director Antje von Broock.

At the meeting of EU environment ministers next Tuesday, the EU states want to adopt their position on the project. The decision does not have to be unanimous, a qualified majority is sufficient. Germany could also abstain from the vote if the fronts remain as hardened as they are at the moment.

A qualified majority is achieved under two conditions: first, at least 15 of the 27 EU countries must agree, and they must represent at least 65 percent of the total EU population.