BERLIN - The European Commission has drafted a plan allowing sales of new cars with internal combustion engines that run only on climate neutral e-fuels, in an attempt to resolve a spat with Germany over the EU's phasing out of combustion engine cars from 2035.
The draft proposal, seen by Reuters on Tuesday, suggests creating a new type of vehicle category in the European Union for cars that can only run on carbon neutral fuels.
Such vehicles would have to use technology that would prevent them from driving if other fuels are used, the draft said. This would include a "fuelling inducement system" to stop the car from starting if it was fuelled by non-carbon neutral fuels, it said.
The proposal could offer a route for car manufacturers to keep selling combustion engine vehicles after 2035, the date when a planned EU law is set to ban the sale of new CO2-emitting cars.
After months of negotiations, EU countries and the European Parliament agreed the law last year. But Germany's Transport Ministry surprised other countries this month by lodging last-minute objections to the law, days before a final vote that would have seen it enter into force.
The Ministry's core demand is that the EU allow sales of new cars running on e-fuels after 2035. The Ministry was not immediately available for comment.
A Commission spokesperson declined to comment on the draft document, but referred to comments by EU climate policy chief Frans Timmermans, who said last week any solution must comply with the 2035 phaseout law agreed last year.
"The talks are ongoing between the Commission and the German authorities," the spokesperson said.
An EU official told Reuters on Monday that any proposal on registering e-fuel cars would only be made after the combustion engine phaseout law was finally adopted.
E-fuels are made by synthesizing captured CO2 emissions and hydrogen produced using CO2-free electricity.
They are not yet produced at scale. A study published on Tuesday by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research found that all planned e-fuel projects worldwide would only produce enough fuel to cover 10% of Germany's demand for e-fuel use in aviation, shipping and chemicals in the next few years.
On Monday, Germany's Transport Ministry said talks with the Commission about the planned end of new combustion engines from 2035 were moving forward, but added it could not say when an agreement might be reached.
(Reporting by Markus Wacket and Kate Abnett Writing by Riham Alkousaa Editing by Rachel More and Mark Potter)