No products in the cart.
Press Play to listen to this article
This item is part of the Fit For 55 series from POLITICO.
BERLIN – Volkswagen stands out from some of its competitors in the automotive industry when it comes to handling the EU “Fit for 55” package to combat climate change – and that shakes the powerful auto industry lobby.
While VW, alongside Volvo, Stellantis and Renault, is energetically relying on electric cars as an alternative to gasoline and diesel, others, including the large automotive supplier industry, want to fight for a future for the combustion engine. by supporting synthetic fuels and hydrogen as alternatives.
This different approach reveals cracks within the Brussels-based Association of European Automobile Manufacturers (ACEA) as to how a unified front can be presented before the publication of Fit for 55 on July 14th – which, according to POLITICO, is a de facto ban on the ICE by 2035.
“Volkswagen [is] annoy everyone, “said a car lobbyist who knows ACEA’s regular technical meetings of ACEA officials who decide on the association’s policy.
Founded in 1991 to be the voice of the auto industry in the EU capital, ACEA brings together 15 automakers including giants like Volkswagen, Toyota, Renault and Stellantis, as well as smaller companies like Jaguar Land Rover and Ferrari.
According to two lobbyists who are familiar with the internal meetings, VW representatives within the ACEA have created difficulties in defining a unified position on all issues, from legislation on emissions standards to a detailed mobility strategy.
“They are trying to dispel the problems and paralyze the club,” said one.
An ACEA spokesman disagreed with this assessment, citing the association’s joint position on the EU review of CO2 standards for cars and vans by 2030, saying that the CEOs presented their unified stance to the Commission’s climate bazaar, Frans Timmermans, in March.
“ACEA has a long-standing industry-wide consensus on the path to carbon neutrality by 2050,” said the spokesman.
Still, there are still complaints that VW has pushed for more.
This is partly because the German automaker is ahead of most of its competitors when it comes to electromobility – a decision it made in 2018. The struggles of its rivals and demands for delay collide with VW’s own priorities.
“Within ACEA, Volkswagen wanted to take a more progressive stance on CO2 [emission cuts]”So there was a difference of opinion,” said a second lobbyist familiar with the meetings. “Volkswagen is the biggest [car] Companies in Europe, they are arrogant … It’s not like a small car manufacturer that people don’t listen to. “
VW boss Herbert Diess has spoken out openly on social media against hydrogen and e-fuels as an alternative to electrification, and there were reports of differences of opinion within the VDA on how to consolidate a position.
While Volkswagen has made it clear that traditional engines see a longer future outside of Europe, it is preparing domestically for this technology to be phased out by 2035. Next Tuesday, Diess will present the Group’s decarbonization plans up to 2030 at its latest strategy event. The Audi subsidiary only wants to produce electric cars for the European market by 2026.
VW’s big rival in electric vehicles, Tesla, is not a member of either the ACEA or the VDA, in large part due to its exclusive focus on electric vehicles.
Volkswagen told POLITICO that there were always internal industry debates in phases of transformation and that it did not intend to withdraw from ACEA.
Others agree that differences are natural within such a diverse group of industries dealing with change.
“You can never force everyone to agree on everything, that is not the job of the organization,” said Lars Stenqvist, CTO of the truck manufacturer Volvo, when asked about the discord within ACEA. “Everyone has to have their own opinion and believe in their direction.”
But industrial lobbies facing structural change have stalled beforehand.
In 2016, the Association of European Airlines, which represented major airlines, joined forces against government-backed insurgent rivals from the Middle East due to internal discord between old airlines.
For some ACEA members, this is just a precedent for a lobby to collapse due to internal tensions.
“That reminds me of the final phase of the cigarette association, where it was all about advertising,” said the first managing director, referring to the sudden departure of the giant Phillip Morris in 2007, which marked the end of the association of the German cigarette industry.
By paralyzing ACEA, Volkswagen is “weakening the entire industry because they are the biggest,” said the manager.
Do you want more analysis of POLITICS? POLITICS Pro is our premium intelligence service for professionals. From financial services to commerce, technology, cybersecurity, and more, Pro offers the real-time intelligence, deep insights, and breakthrough insight you need to stay one step ahead. E-mail [email protected] to request a free trial.