Stellantis bets e-fuels can keep ICE cars on the road till 2050

A recently conducted test on 24 engine families within the Stellantis group has convinced the car giant of the longevity of combustion-engined cars. The company believes that the CO2 benefits from the fuel will keep these cars on the road until 2050.

After the European Commission opened the backdoor for e-fuels after 2035, several car brands have renewed their interest or started investigating the opportunities.

Porsche is co-owner of the world’s only commercial site for e-fuels in Chile today. At the same time, Stellantis has set up a study program with oil giant Aramco to test the fuel artificially made from green hydrogen and CO2 capture.

Until 2050

As many as 28 million vehicles on the road are “already compatible” with synthetic fuels, turning the solution into a possible quick win for low-emission mobility. The technology can lengthen the life of the global car fleet without contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.

Furthermore, it guarantees these owners continuity from their energy provision and might keep mobility accessible to the broader public. Given that the average age of a car from the Stellantis group is twenty years, this should keep the last ICE car the company will build on the road until 2050.

No substitute

Because the study doesn’t change the ambition of the Italian-American-French manufacturer to produce its last combustion-engined model in 2029, most of its brands will have ceased selling them even a few years before that deadline.

Apart from technical feasibility, the pain point for e-fuels is their high cost (ten times higher than oil derivatives), low availability, dependency on green hydrogen, complex scalability, and scarcity. While the cars still need filters to trap the particles and NOx emitted. As such, they are not substitutes for battery power but an attractive transitional solution.

Factory with Repsol

As for production, that’s where the most profitable oil group in the world comes into play. Aramco kickstarted several studies concerning e-fuels. In Bilbao, it is building an e-fuel plant in collaboration with Repsol, which will be supplied by a 10 MW green hydrogen electrolyzer facility. It will open in 2024 and produce synthetic road, maritime, and aviation fuel.

As the world’s biggest oil company, Aramco doesn’t only partner with Stellantis. The Saudi company works on an ultra-lean burn engine with Hyundai and King Abdullah University (KAUST). Aramco delivers the fuel know-how, with the scope of commercial e-fuel as an outcome.


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