France and the UK made news this year when they announced plans to end sales of new gas and diesel cars by 2040 – just days apart – drawing both praise and scepticism from environmental activists and those dependent on petroleum industry alike.
So far, both nations' plans have been seen as relatively distant and cautiously realistic targets by industry experts. Even sceptics realize that by 2040 a lot of cars will be hybrid or electric cars anyway.
However, as a number of green activists have pointed out, the all-electric France and the UK will still need to get electricity from somewhere – and this ultimately means more power that will (we hope) be wind and solar based, rather than nuclear, with nuclear plants still making up a large chunk of power productions in both countries.
People concerned about UK and France becoming green energy economic islands where gas and diesel-engined cars and trucks will be unwelcome were given some solace as German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced support for an eventual ban on gasoline and diesel cars.
The chancellor did not specify a year by which the country will transition to electric cars and hybrids – preferring a "measured" approach over an "extreme" one. They indicated that the eventual transition must be able to preserve German auto industry jobs.
"The auto industry needs to ensure that the mistakes that were made are corrected," Merkel said during a campaign rally in Gehlhausen. "But the second is that the country, the government needs to ensure that those who bought cars in good faith are not punished in the end with driving bans."
"We need to organize a smooth transition into the new era so that people keep their jobs," Merkel added. "That is the challenge that the CDU and Christian Social Union will meet."
Industry observers have already predicted that it will be Germany, more than France or the UK, that will be affected the most by this ban if it is not implemented in Germany itself by 2040. The country still produces a significant number of cars for its two neighbours with German automakers operating plants in neighbouring EU and Commonwealth of Independent States that build cars for EU and other regional markets.
The effect of France and the UK going green (even before 2040) will affect product planning and production in Germany and other countries long before that time rolls around, with all German automakers having already launched their own EV and hybrid divisions to prepare for an all electric future in Europe.
It still remains unseen whether German politicians will lean towards setting concrete timelines for the phase-out of the sales of gas and diesel vehicle, or even if the Chancellor Merkel's stance on the issue carries on in the upcoming election as a political position. Whatever happens, however, it will be likely that German automakers and unions will guide the process rather than political leaders – one already headed in the direction outlined by the Chancellor due to several ongoing diesel cars.
Watch the video below to learn more about the summit around the banning of gas and diesel cars in Germany!