Stellantis, a prominent car manufacturer that includes brands like Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, and Jeep, is confident that internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles still have a significant role to play on the road, potentially extending their presence until 2050. The company’s belief in the continued relevance of ICE vehicles stems from recent tests conducted in partnership with Saudi oil giant Aramco, which demonstrated that 24 different types of internal combustion engines used in European vehicles produced by Stellantis since 2014 can effectively utilize advanced e-fuels without requiring any modifications.
Despite Stellantis reaffirming its commitment to having all new car sales in Europe be battery-electric by 2030, there is a nuanced perspective in play. The European Union has chosen to exempt vehicles running on e-fuels from its 2035 deadline aimed at phasing out new carbon dioxide-emitting cars. This decision reflects a recognition of the reality that many of the ICE vehicles currently being sold by Stellantis between now and 2029 will likely remain on the roads for more than two decades.
Christian Mueller, Stellantis’ Senior Vice President for Propulsion Systems in the EMEA region, emphasized the importance of managing the company’s inventory fleet, given the extended lifespan of these vehicles. He mentioned that approximately 25% of Stellantis’ vehicles are still in use after two decades, underscoring the substantial exposure time to e-fuels and their importance. This realization highlights the significance of developing synthetic e-fuels, especially those produced using renewable energy sources.
Stellantis estimates that the engine types identified as compatible with e-fuels represent approximately 28 million vehicles currently in operation on European roads. This compatibility presents the potential for a substantial reduction in CO2 emissions, estimated at up to 400 million metric tons between 2025 and 2050.
However, it’s worth noting that there are skeptics who cast doubt on the feasibility of e-fuels in the short term due to their limited availability and high costs. Amer Amer, Aramco’s Transport Chief Technologist, stated that the production of e-fuels is anticipated to commence in early 2025, with two demonstration plants in Saudi Arabia and Spain. While Stellantis and Aramco executives suggest that e-fuel availability may increase and prices may decrease, especially due to favorable taxation policies in the European Union, specific predictions for the future remain elusive.
Stellantis’ stance on the longevity of internal combustion engine vehicles, backed by successful tests with e-fuels, reflects a complex transitional period in the automotive industry. The interplay between evolving technologies, environmental goals, and market realities will continue to shape the future of mobility and the ultimate role of ICE vehicles on our roads.