The car of the future: batteries or e-fuels?
As of 2035, only new cars that have combustion engines that emit no CO2 may be registered in the EU. In Austria, Chancellor Karl Nehammer has invited companies and experts to an "Auto summit" to discuss the future of cars. Europe’s press looks at mobility and energy — also with an eye on China.
Synthetic fuels still in the slow lane
E-fuels can’t compete with electric cars for the time being, economist Valéry Michaux explains in The Conversation:
“E-fuels are currently lagging far behind e-cars. They only exist at the experimental level and are very costly. ... So in the current emergency and energy context, e-fuels cannot challenge the private car’s evolution towards e-cars by 2035. Spectacular progress would be conceivable if the entire world were to bank on them, but this would pose far greater problems than the e-car in energy terms.”
Needed for power plants, planes and ships
E-fuels are needed more urgently elsewhere, Die Presse observes:
“In aircraft and ships that cannot be converted to electric propulsion. And above all, in electricity generation. After all, the electricity system suffers because of the volatility of renewables, lacking power especially during the dark winter. Thermal power plants will still be needed in the future to compensate for this. The only difference is that instead of being fuelled by natural gas from Russia they will run on synthesis gas that was previously produced by South American or African wind and solar power plants. Thanks to district heating, gas-fired power plants have an efficiency of 85 percent, which is significantly higher than that of cars.”
Clear signs from China
Sabah looks to China, where the biennial Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition opened on Tuesday:
“More than 90 percent of the models unveiled at the show are electric. At the 2021 show, that figure was still below 90 percent. Today, there are many electric car manufacturers in China that have mainly been present on the domestic market but are now also entering foreign markets. ... In 2022, the number of electric vehicles exported by China increased by more than 100 percent to 679,000 units.”
Too many cars either way
The row over the car of the future is clouding our view of the real problem, warns Salzburger Nachrichten:
“Our villages and cities are already too cramped for even more cars — regardless of whether they burn fuel or use electricity. Neither technology will reduce the economically, commercially and above all psychosocially damaging traffic jams. But it is far more politically laborious to tackle this problem than to engage in a show battle about the right or wrong type of car.”