Saving the world: Germany votes to outlaw the internal combustion engine

Being a subscriber to Mad Magazine, when I first saw the title of this article at Gizmodo recently, I assumed I’d mixed up my bookmarks and gone to the wrong site. “German Lawmakers Vote to Ban the Internal Combustion Engine.” Oh, come on, man. That can’t be right, can it? The home of some of the higher performance engines in the history of fine cars can’t seriously be talking about this, can they? Well color me embarrassed because, with a few caveats, it turned out to be true.

The modern internal combustion engine first came from Germany and now Germany wants to put a nail in its coffin. The Bundesrat has passed a resolution to ban the ICE beginning in 2030.

Germany’s Spiegel Magazin reported this morning that the country’s top legislative body was able to reach a bi-partisan agreement that hopes to allow only zero-emission vehicles on EU roads in 14 years. For the resolution to be instituted across Europe, it will have to be approved by the EU. But according to Forbes, “German regulations traditionally have shaped EU and UNECE regulations.”

The underlying cause for this apparent madness is, of course, the recent Paris Climate Treaty talks which President Barack Obama signed us up for on September 3rd. If you read through that White House announcement at the link you can search the entire page and not find a single instance of an important word: treaty. Barack Obama knows he can’t afford to call it a treaty because he signed on without the consent of congress. But a treaty is what it is, so this action has zero force under law.

But getting back to the European Union situation, it’s up to them if they want to go to all in on electric vehicles. Germany won’t do it on its own, of course, but they may have the clout to get the entire EU to go along with the idea. Still, it’s a rather sad moment, isn’t it? Germany was the home to some of the early innovation in engine development and retain to this day a reputation for excellence in automotive engineering. What will the Germans (and the rest of the EU) do if and when they are restricted to nothing but electric cars?

Yes, there have been some big advancements in electric cars. The Model S Tesla, for example, recently posted a time of zero to sixty in 2.8 seconds. That’s impressively fast, but still twice as slow as the electric creation of the Academic Motorsports Club Zurich which recently accomplished the same feat in 1.5 seconds. But the Tesla costs nearly $70K for the lowest end option and you get a little over 200 miles driving range for that price while needing quite a while to recharge it. The manufacturer claims you can get an 85% charge in as little as thirty minutes, but that’s only if you have an expensive supercharger and a suitable power supply. (It also assumes that your car doesn’t literally burst into flames while using the supercharger.) The actual home charger will have you waiting roughly five hours.

Like many other green initiatives in the energy field, these technologies are coming along but they’re really not where they need to be for general use. Forcing them on the public in the name of fighting global warming is going to turn off public support rather than building it.