A battle against "green fanatics."
The European Union has been at the forefront of pushing for a combustion-engined vehicle sales ban in the not-so-distant future. Countries like Germany and France are open to the idea while Norway has already embraced all-electric vehicles. The Nissan Leaf has been a best-seller there for years. As many industry analysts predict Europe will push forward with its EV agenda at a faster pace than the United States, they should take note that not all EU member nations are in favor of the plan. The Czech Republic is perhaps the best example.
Bloomberg reports that Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has no intention of abandoning gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles by 2035, a goal stated in a recent EU proposal.
"We will not agree with the ban on selling fossil-fuel-powered cars," he said. "It's not possible. We can't dictate here what green fanatics devised in the European Parliament."
Unlike other smaller EU member states, the Czech Republic carries some serious weight. It's one of the world's biggest vehicle builders on a per-capita basis. It's also assuming the EU rotating presidency in the second half of next year. The country that borders Germany's east side is not afraid of using its economic and political clout. However, the country is not completely against EVs. It is in favor of a charging infrastructure but refuses to subsidize the production.
The Czechs have a long history of cars dating back over a century. In fact, nearly a third of the country's economy comes from the auto industry. The Volkswagen Group's Skoda brand is Czech-founded and today has two factories in the country. Hyundai and Toyota also have factories there. Of course, a different Czech government could get voted into office and reverse the current one's policies.
That may not have a chance to happen because the VW Group, Hyundai, and Toyota are all pressing ahead with electric vehicles. If the Czech Republic wants to retain their business, the country's politicians may have no choice but to change their position.