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New hopes for motorcycles with an internal combustion engine

Six member states of the European Union will not sign the regulation to ban the sale of new cars and vans with an internal combustion engine from 2035. FEMA’s Dolf Willigers says this affects motorcycles too.

Motorcycles are still not mentioned in the plans to decarbonize road transport in the European Union. Still, new developments from March 2023 may also have an effect on motorcycles. On 27 October 2022, the European Commission, European Parliament, and the member states, united in the Council of the European Union, reached an agreement in the so-called trilogue about the emission limits for cars and vans. After a few steps to lower the emission of the fleet, from 2035 the sale of new cars that emit CO2 at the tailpipe will be banned in the European Union. There was a very small opening for internal combustion engine in a so-called recital, a non-binding clause in the agreement that asked the Commission to investigate the possibilities for another kind of ‘zero-emission’ propulsion in the form of e-fuels. However, Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the Commission and responsible for the Green Deal, immediately said he didn’t see much in any alternative for the battery electric vehicle.

The next step in the process was the adoption of the agreement by the European Parliament. There it already became clear that the resistance was rising but still, on 15 February 2023, the European Parliament adopted the new regulation with 340 votes in favour, 279 against and 21 abstentions. But doubts were expressed not only here; manufacturers of vehicles with an internal combustion engine found each other in the E-fuel Alliance, that became very active on the social media.

‘FEMA supports freedom of choice: not the governments, but the riders and manufacturers should decide.’

Less than a week before the EU member states would sign the new regulation, the Italian government declared that they would not sign it after all, soon be followed by Germany, Poland, Czechia, Bulgaria, and Portugal. Later Austria also announced that they could not accept a regulation that focussed on one solution only with the exclusion of all alternatives. The signing of the regulation on 7 March 2023, usually a formality, is postponed.

In the unique situation that has now arisen nobody knows how to act. New negotiations or a change of the agreement seem to be impossible. A solution must be found. In any case, when there are new prospects for cars and vans, then why not for motorcycles? The availability of new cars and vans with an internal combustion engine after 2035 would also mean the conservation of the fuelling infrastructure.

Especially for motorcycles it is necessary to maintain the possibility to make and buy new motorcycles with a combustion engine for leisure purposes and for long distance travelling and to be able to fuel them. FEMA supports freedom of choice: not the governments, but the riders and manufacturers should decide about the technical solutions to reach the determined goal.

Written by Dolf Willigers

This article is subject to FEMA’s copyright

BMF Chair Jim Freeman commented ‘The BMF hopes that the British Government[s] take note, and reconsider their plans for de-carbonization, with changes in the timeline being especially important. The countries that are rebelling represent a major part of the EU, as can be seen from the voting numbers. We wish them every success in introducing a substantial dose of reality into the decarb debate.’