Supercar and niche vehicle manufacturers have been given more time to switch to zero-emission powertrains after the EU agreed to push back the end of their special arrangement on CO2 until the end of 2035.
Automakers such as Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin could have had to meet tougher limits as early as 2029. Instead, the derogation that allows brands that sell fewer than 10,000 cars or 22,000 vans in the Europe to negotiate specific CO2 targets will last six more years.
The time extension is seen as a concession to Italy, home to Ferrari, Lamborghini and Pagani, after European environment ministers reached a deal on Tuesday to ratify the European Parliament’s vote earlier in June to mandate that vans and cars sold by 2035 had to be zero emission.
Italy had been one of five European countries arguing for an extension to the deadline to 2040.
“As far as niche producers are concerned, the exemption is up to the end of 2035,” Agnes Pannier-Runacher, energy transition minister in France, said in answer to a question at a press conference following the EU agreement.
Supercar makers such as Ferrari have found it harder to reduce CO2 by switching to electrified vehicles due to the disproportionate effect of the weight of the battery and the unwillingness of customers to give up the signature engine noise from V-8 or V-12 powerplants.
McLaren and Ferrari have both launched plug-in hybrid versions of their best-selling mid-engine supercars, but customers would be unlikely to achieve the claimed CO2 figures during real-world driving given the limited battery range.
The extension of the derogation is a win for the European Small Volume Car Manufacturers Alliance (ESCA), which represents brands such as McLaren, Aston Martin, Bugatti, Pagani, Koenigsegg, Ineos Automotive and Rimac (but not Ferrari or Lamborghini).
The Brussels- and London-based organization has argued that special rules need to be applied because the life cycle of the supercars is longer, they have a limited overall impact on emissions, and the brands have limited resources.
Small-volume automakers have been announcing plans for electric vehicles in recent months, most recently Lamborghini, whose CEO Stephan Winkelmann told the Il Sole 24 Ore newspaper this week the Volkswagen Group subsidiary would bring out an electric car by the end of the decade as part of an $1.8 billion electrification investment.
Ferrari, meanwhile, said earlier this year it would unveil its first EV in 2025.
The push for supercars to go battery-only makes little sense on purely environmental reasons, argued Phillippe Houchois, global automotive analyst at investment bank Jefferies. “Putting a large battery into a supercar has a negative impact on manufacturing emissions because they get driven so little [to offset the extra emissions in producing the battery]” he told Automotive News Europe.
The derogation extension was the second piece of positive news for supercar makers this week from the EU after environment ministers agreed to investigate whether e-fuels could play a part in the 100 percent CO2 reduction by 2035.
E-fuels, or synthetic fuels, replace gasoline in combustion engines and are made using waste or airborne CO2, which means they are theoretically carbon neutral.
Supporters of e-fuels have until 2026 to prove the fuel’s usefulness to the European Union’s carbon reduction target. Frans Timmermans, the Dutch politician who leads the European Commission’s work on the European Green Deal, said Tuesday the Commission “will have an open mind” as to their effectiveness.
The decision was welcomed by automotive parts association CLEPA: “We are glad to see support from Council for vehicles running on renewable fuels,” the lobby group’s departing head, Sigrid de Vries said in a statement.