New Czech government declares 2035 ban on combustion engines “unacceptable”

The EU’s ambitious Green Deal with its ban on new internal combustion engine vehicles, including hybrids, by 2035 would hit the Czech economy particularly hard. The country, home to the Volkswagen group’s Skoda brand, depends on the automotive industry for more than a quarter of its industrial output, and the automotive production sector directly and indirectly employs nearly 700,000 people.

Petr Fiala |  Photo: Michaela Říhová, ČTK

Prime Minister Fiala argued that in addition to hurting the automotive industry and the country’s competitiveness, the forced switch to electric mobility would hurt end-users, as the majority of Czechs simply could not afford to move to target date.

“It would pose an existential threat to many people for whom a car is not a luxury but a basic necessity which is essential to their daily life; they need it for their job, to commute to work, or just to visit family and friends.

While the new cabinet sees the transition to clean energy sources as inevitable in the long run, it is opposed to its implementation before member states are ready to manage the change. Deputy Prime Minister Vít Rakušan stressed that the transition should not impoverish member states.

“Setting a firm deadline at this point seems unnecessary. The market will also play a role in making the transition. But right now, for most people in this country, electric vehicles are a luxury. “

The automotive industry in the Czech Republic involves both the direct manufacture of cars at Skoda factories and the production of spare parts at Toyota and Hyundai factories. At present, production is very much focused on internal combustion engines, and although theoretically factories could continue to produce cars for export to countries outside the EU, the Volkswagen Group would move them. most likely further east.

Photo: Ruben de Rijcke, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

As for the factories for the production of spare parts, there is a risk that these companies too will slow down or shut down their activities, because electric cars have fewer parts. If the Czech industry could partially offset this decline in the inevitable boom in the battery technology sector, that too would take time.

The Czech prime minister said his government would fight to have the Green Deal revised and seek allies in the EU to strengthen its position. The issue will certainly be one of the main priorities when the country takes over the rotating EU presidency in the second half of 2022 and is expected to step up cooperation among the states of the Visegrad Group which have a similar position on the Green Deal. In addition to opposing the 2035 ban on combustion engines, they want nuclear energy to be an integral part of the EU’s future energy mix.

Berta D. Wells