New study
E-fuel cars are much less environmentally friendly than electric cars

E fuels

“You could fill up on climate protection” – according to a new study, this sentence is rather misleading. Photo: Tom Weller/dpa

© dpa-infocom GmbH

The combustion engine is threatened with extinction in Europe by 2035. Meanwhile, some hope that at least synthetic fuels can continue to be used. But how environmentally friendly are e-fuels really?

Cars running on synthetic fuels (E fuels) provide minimal savings in CO2 emissions over their lifetime compared to traditional petrol or diesel vehicles.

This is the result of a study carried out by the panel of experts «transport and Environment» (T&E) was published. T&E is the umbrella organization of non-governmental 53 European organizations committed to sustainable transport, including the Verkehrsclub Deutschland.

In the study, the emissions of a complete life cycle of cars calculated that will be purchased in 2030, including manufacture and operation. A vehicle powered by a mix of e-fuels and gasoline would reduce its emissions by just 5 percent compared to conventional fuels.

Electric vehicle 53 percent cleaner

An electric vehicle powered only by a battery and electric motors, on the other hand, would cause 78 percent fewer emissions over its life cycle than a combustion engine. The calculation basis for the CO2 footprint in the manufacture and operation of the battery cars was the average EU-Electricity mix predicted for 2030.

The analysis shows that even a vehicle that is operated with pure e-fuel produced with renewable electricity would emit more over its life cycle than the electric car. An electric vehicle would be 53 percent cleaner than a combustion engine with synthetic ones fuels. This is mainly due to losses in e-fuel production and the inefficient combustion engine.

According to the analysis, a battery-electric Volkswagen ID.3 gets five times further with the same amount of renewable energy than a VW Golf that runs on e-fuel. A BMW i4 could drive six times further than a BMW 4 Series with a combustion engine.

T&E thus opposed the advocates of artificially produced e-fuels, who are fighting against the complete phasing out of the combustion engine. They see the use of e-fuels as a viable alternative, especially for regions without enough green electricity to operate them and without enough income to buy new e-cars. The FDP, for example, rejects a ban on the sale of new cars with combustion engines from 2035 at EU level. The liberals are demanding that vehicles with combustion engines can be re-registered after 2035 if they can be proven to be fueled only with e-fuels.