Italy Wants to Shield Supercars From Combustion Engine Ban
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A couple of months ago, the European Union announced plans to ban the sale of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by 2035, with a 55% cut in car-related carbon emissions by 2030.
This news from Europe was expected, as the EU had already signalled its intentions to speed up adoption of electric vehicles, and it follows reports that several U.S states are planning to ban gas powered vehicles.
However, there is some pushback from Italy, home to two of Europe’s most famous car makers, Ferrari and Lamborghini.
Both companies take great pride in their high-power engines, and are still preoccupied with appealing to traditional buyers, as evidenced by Lamborghini’s unveiling of a new Countach earlier this year.
Italian supercars have been iconic for years.
Why is Italy requesting an exemption?
According to Bloomberg, Italy’s minister for ecological transition, Roberto Cingolani, is not opposed to the move towards electric cars, but wants the EU to approach any ban on ICE vehicles with some nuance.
Cingolani, a former director at Ferrari, argues that the supercar sector is a niche market, and due to the low sales volume of Ferrari and Lamborghini sports cars, an exemption would make no difference to the end goal of lowering CO2 emissions.
It is true that sales volumes are low, with Ferrari selling around 9,100 vehicles in 2020, and Lamborghini just 7,400.
While the EU has yet to comment on Italy’s position, Cingolani is optimistic: “The exemption is something we are discussing with other partners in Europe…I am convinced there will not be a problem.”
Support for Italy’s position
The European Union has said that “all car manufacturers will have to contribute to this (emissions) reduction,” but the proposed ban still has to be discussed by member states, and some amendments are to be expected.
As reported by Bloomberg, Italy may have an ally in France, with President Macron already advocating for more lenient emissions targets. Like Italy, France does not oppose electrification, but wants to buy its domestic car makers more time to phase out gas completely.
Oliver Zipse, head of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, has also spoken out in support of Ferrari and Lamborghini: “For very small manufacturers, who in the bigger picture of overall emissions play almost no role, there are good arguments for considering these exemptions.”
Porsche has little sympathy for European rivals
The Drive explains that not all European automakers are in agreement, with Porsche throwing some shade on the pushback from Italy.
Porsche CEO Oliver Blume recently said that no exception to the ban is reasonable or justifiable, as everyone has to play their part to combat climate change. In addition, he explains that electric cars have a higher performance than traditional internal combustion engine cars, so the Italians should stop complaining and start adapting!
Still, Ferrari and Lamborghini could use some help from the EU. Porsche has already shown willingness to embrace electric cars, with the all-electric Taycan proving wildly successful..
Ferrari on the other hand, is still busy developing its first gas-powered SUV, and won’t be ready to release a fully electric car until at least 2025.
Lamborghini is a little further ahead, and does have plans to phase out gas-only cars, but would prefer a solution that allows for hybrid engines. The main reason for this is Lamborghini’s reluctance to give up its iconic V12, a core part of the company’s identity.
It remains to be seen what will happen, but Italy has had a fractious relationship with the EU of late, and Brussels will be keen to avoid another fight.
The suspicion is that supercars will be exempt from the 2035 ban. After all, who doesn’t like listening to the famed roar of a Ferrari as it speeds off into the distance?