Over 100 years ago, it seemed that the electric cars would outclass the conventional engine. The European Union wants to ban the sale of new cars with combustion engines in 2035. Will it work now?
The history of electric cars has come full circle
Despite appearances, electric vehicles are nothing new when it comes to using the electric motor in passenger cars. The first simple electric wheeled vehicles appeared back in the first half of the 19th century. At the end of the 19th century, the first short series models appeared in the USA, with a real boom between 1900 and 1912. Compared to the combustion cars of the time, they were much more comfortable and, above all, quieter. It is no coincidence that an advertisement for a garage charger from 1912 features a woman, as it was ladies in particular who liked electric vehicles. However, improvements in the production process, ever-lower prices and especially the introduction of the electric starter in 1912 – first on the Ford T – allowed cars with combustion engines to catch up. With a greater range and availability of petrol at stations, and the development of the state road network, they slowly began to displace electric cars.
After the Second World War, the Ford or General Motors factories switched production from military to civilian use. Since the internal combustion engine was the primary power unit in trucks, tanks and planes, it is no wonder that petrol passenger cars started to come out of the factories in large numbers. Thus, electromobility in the automotive sector was forgotten for decades to come. Today, market conditions and technological progress again favour electric cars.
Emission standards – diesel and petrol engines
There is now a clear trend around the world, including Europe, to return to electromobility. What failed in the United States more than 100 years ago is about to become a reality today. Ultimately, the electric motor in the European Union will replace the combustion engine, which has considerable problems with remaining on the market.
The emission standards currently in force in Europe mean that a diesel engine in a new car must be equipped not only with a diesel particulate filter (DPF) but also with a tank for the AdBlue liquid. This urea solution is dosed into the SCR catalytic converter so that the car can meet the stringent emission standards. Moreover, in 2025, an even stricter EURO 7 standard will come into force, which may cause a complete withdrawal of diesel vehicles from offers as unprofitable for manufacturers due to the exorbitant cost of adaptation to the new emission standard.
And what about petrol engines? Since recently, most of them have been equipped with an additional soot filter (GPF), the equivalent of the DPF known from diesel units since 2008. It also heralds the slow end of the internal combustion engine era in general. Already today, few petrol units in new cars do not have the GPF. Most hybrids do not have the new filter, but these vehicles are also expected to be replaced by electric cars eventually. The new emissions standards will ultimately make it unprofitable to produce combustion engine cars, and, due to the economies of scale, electric cars will be cheaper than them. Before electromobility becomes mainstream, it must first be profitable.
Electric cars in Poland
So far in Poland, a little over 13 thousand electric cars and over 500 electric buses have been registered. These are pretty modest results, but there is a chance that it will improve. Since July, it has been possible to get even 27k PLN of subsidy to purchase an electric car. Soon there will be another call for funding under the Green Public Transport programme, where local authorities can get up to 90% refund of the purchase cost of an electric bus. Plans assume financing of several hundred new city buses from the programme alone.
Electromobility is also expected to benefit from the plunging car prices. Estimates say that by 2025, the costs of electric and combustion engine vehicles will equal, and electric cars will be cheaper in the following years. If this is the case, electric vehicles will be back in favour of drivers after more than 100 years of dominance of the combustion engine.