EFS Consulting

Chinese strategy 2060 for combustion engines

In a paper on the automotive industry’s roadmap to 2060, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced that combustion engines will represent a long-term development path.

While e-mobility was previously seen as the future of road transportation, China is now sending out a remarkable signal: It is backing the continuation of the combustion engine. These past years, Chinese car manufacturers have already enjoyed success with e-cars in Europe and globally. Now, however, they are once again focusing on the further development of combustion engines.

Alternative fuels alongside conventional fossil fuels

China is pursuing the strategy to preserve the internal combustion engine. It does so by relying on alternative fuels instead of conventional fossil fuels such as diesel and gasoline. According to the government paper, synthetic fuels made from hydrogen and carbon will secure the future of the combustion engine. These are obtained, for example, from from waste products from cement plants and coal-fired power stations, synthetic fuel engines with electric support (hybrid engines) will also continue to lead the way. With these alternatives, China should still achieve its CO2 neutrality target by 2060.

A strategic decision

The end of combustion engines in 2035 will result in the loss of know-how, which China now wants to secure. Through joint ventures with European manufacturers, the Chinese automotive industry can continue to serve and expand the global combustion engine market. One example of this is Aurobay, Renault’s joint venture with Chinese manufacturer Geely.

Influence of the Chinese direction on the European car market

In the European market, cars with synthetic fuels, known as e-fuels in Europe, will still be eligible for approval after 2035. A requirement is that CO2 emissions are reduced by 100% across the entire supply chain compared to fossil fuels. Technically, this is currently not possible. The developments in China could now provide proponents of combustion engines with arguments to achieve a full exemption for e-fuels after all. In order to maintain competitiveness, the further development of combustion engines could be driven forward. This, however, is not currently on the agenda of many European manufacturers. It remains to be seen whether the EU will allow itself to be influenced by China’s plans or stick to its own course.

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