Europe’s push for its auto industry to go all-electric poses risks to employment and vehicle affordability, EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said, urging automakers to keep making combustion cars.
“I respect the fact that some are deciding to accelerate toward a 100 percent electric offer, but I also encourage manufacturers to continue to produce internal combustion cars, generate quality jobs and remain an export force,” Breton said in an interview published on French daily Les Echos on Friday.
The European Union recently reached a landmark deal to effectively ban new combustion-engine cars from 2035, which would reshape transportation and mark a significant step on the path to reduce carbon emissions.
Breton's concerns echo those raised by companies including Stellantis, which has warned the car market will collapse if the industry is unable to bring down the cost of electric vehicles.
Breton told Les Echos that the move to EVs may cost an industry that employs about 13 million people roughly 600,000 jobs.
He said he is counting on a 2026 review clause that he insisted on adding to the EU deal creating a mechanism for the 2035 deadline to be pushed back. He also said he will create a working group that will include automakers that will meet regularly over the next four years.
“There must be no taboo on the 2026 get-together,” Breton said.
Carlos Tavares, CEO of Stellantis, arguably has been the most vocal leader about the risks of the EU’s phase-out of combustion engines.
“I am not worried about Stellantis,” Tavares said on Oct. 27, the day the EU reached its deal. “I am worried about the middle classes that will not be able to buy cars that cost 30,000 euros.”