The Commission last year unveiled plans to stop the sale of vehicles using internal combustion engines by 2035 as part of a wider climate target to cut emissions by more than half over this decade.
The measure passed by 339 votes to 249 with 24 abstentions at a session in Strasbourg – in practice limiting future sales to emissions-free all-electric models.
The law is not yet final. Wednesday’s vote confirms the parliament’s position for upcoming negotiations with EU countries on the final law.
The vote upholds a key pillar of the EU’s plans to cut net planet-warming emissions 55% by 2030, from 1990 levels – a target that requires faster emissions reductions from industry, energy and transport.
Cars currently account for 12% of all CO2 emissions in the 27-member EU bloc, while transportation overall accounts for around a quarter.
The aim is to speed Europe’s shift to electric vehicles and embolden carmakers to invest heavily in electrification, aided by another EU law that will require countries to install millions of vehicle chargers.
“Purchasing and driving zero-emission cars will become cheaper for consumers,” said Jan Huitema, parliament’s lead negotiator on the policy.
Attempt to weaken proposal fails
Attempts by some lawmakers to weaken the target to a 90% CO2 cut by 2035 were rejected.
The conservative European People’s Party (EPP), the parliament’s biggest group of lawmakers, had sought to push a compromise that would have diluted the proposals and allowed sales of hybrid vehicles to continue.
Their amendment was narrowly defeated while an ambitious attempt by the Greens to bring the measure deadline forward to 2030 also failed.
Conservatives were also unable to push through amendments on having a car’s production-related carbon footprint taken into consideration as well – potentially allowing carmakers credits for synthetic, so-called e-fuels, made with captured carbon dioxide and hydrogen produced from renewable sources.