EU Developments Underline Need for Technological Neutrality on Motorcycle Decarbonisation

All routes to net-zero must be explored - not just battery electric

March 29, 2023

The EU has formally approved legislation that will phase out sales of new combustion-engine cars and vans by 2035, after last-minute resistance from Germany. The European Commission and Germany’s Transport Ministry reached an agreement that will allow combustion-engine cars running exclusively on synthetic e-fuels to continue to be sold after the implementation of legislation mandating zero-emission sales only from 2035. The legislation is part of the EU's Fit for 55 package of green legislation, which also covers emissions from trucks, coaches, and buses.

The agreement aims to carve out a new category for vehicles running on e-fuels inside the existing Euro 6 car rules, and then integrate that into the CO2 standards legislation that mandates the 2035 phase-out date. The technicalities involved still need to be clarified and challenges remain due to opposition from the European Parliament and green-minded countries.

But this move reinforces the case for technological neutrality when it comes to UK vehicle decarbonisation. Given the international basis of vehicle manufacture and market structures, the Brussels proposals cannot fail to impact on the UK Government’s plans for phasing out sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

Although the Department for Transport has consulted on phase out dates for new petrol-powered motorcycles, neither the UK or the EU have announced proposals for legislation. Now that e-fuels have become part of the EU’s plans, the NMC feels that the opportunity is now open for the UK to make the correct decisions on zero Co2 regulations for motorcycles.  The NMC believes that all technologies and innovations should be ‘in play’ – including clean and synthetic fuels – and not just battery electric only. Now that Europe is on a path to include clean fuels in its decarbonisation strategy, the Government needs to demonstrate more ambition through supporting innovation in these areas, rather than restricting development to just the one narrow pathway of battery electric.

The Government is called upon to take a genuinely technology neutral approach when it publishes its proposals for motorcycling and to take account of proposals made by the NMC, which were recently reinforced jointly with the industry’s proposals.

NMC Executive Director Craig Carey-Clinch said: “The compromise on efuels reached in Brussels is technically complex, so it will be some time before we see how this translates into new vehicle developments, but the key point is that the case for eFuels is now mainstream and will ‘fuel’ development in this fledgling sector. The Government clearly has much to think about when it comes to the current proposals for 2030 for cars, but it does now have the opportunity to make the right proposals for motorcycling, which makes space for all net zero technologies, not just battery electric.”


Notes to Editors

‍1. For further comment from the NMC please contact Craig Carey-Clinch, on 07979 757484 /

2. National Motorcyclists Council members are: The Auto Cycle Union, BikeSocial, BikeTrac, the British Motorcyclists Federation, IAM RoadSmart, the National Motorcycle Dealers Association, Plantec Assist, the Trail Riders Fellowship and the Vintage Motor Cycle Club.

Photo: Zero Motorcycles