The far-right politician is vehemently opposed to outlawing the sale of combustion-powered cars, saying that it makes no sense for the economy, the environment, and society.
Matteo Salvini, Italy's minister of transport and infrastructure, has lashed out at the European Union's plans to bring sales of combustion-powered vehicles to an end by 2035. Salvini was in Brussels on December 5, meeting with his EU27 counterparts and the European Commission's Transport Commissioner Adina Valean. According to a tweet from the Italian news agency Ultimora, he had some strong words about a full-scale sales ban.
"I spoke with the EU commissioner and with my French and German colleagues about reviewing the ban on petrol and diesel cars from 2035: it makes no economic, environmental or social sense," the minister is reported as saying.
In addition, Bloomberg reports that Salvini is against the EU's goal of introducing Euro 7 emissions standards by 2025. These standards aim to reduce the emission of nitrous oxide by an additional 25%, but despite these new rules, many major automakers are convinced that combustion will live on for a long time to come.
Hyundai's Albert Biermann has spoken out against banning the sale of combustion-engine cars, BMW CEO Oliver Zipse has said that switching exclusively to EVs would be a mistake, and Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares has pointed out the problems with forcing full-scale electrification onto the motoring industry on numerous occasions.
Salvini's comments, therefore, are nothing new. In fact, it's partly because of Italy's efforts that the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini will get a little more breathing room to fall in line with new regulations. However, even the next Aventador will be electrified, but will the transport minister's latest protest make any real difference?
Despite the valid concerns of numerous countries and their automakers, the EU has decided to continue with the proposed ban on the sale of new combustion-powered cars by 2035, as has the state of California, with New York likely to follow.
According to Forbes, the Italian politician is unlikely to die on this hill. Among his pet projects is a proposed bridge between mainland Italy and the island of Sicily, which would be the world's longest suspension bridge if completed, and for this project - part of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) - to go ahead, it needs grants that the EU would provide.
Salvini will have to pick his battles, and the allure of a legacy-defining bridge means he likely won't push too hard to oppose a combustion ban.
Still, with numerous industry giants drawing attention to extreme EV R&D and production costs, the challenges of meaningfully reducing carbon emissions with electric cars, and the effects of entire workforces becoming obsolete, this discussion appears far from over.