Automakers critical of EU's new Euro 7 pollution rules

Automakers critical of EU's new Euro 7 pollution rules

Automotive News Europe — 2022-11-10

Automotive Industry

The regulations will govern Euro 7 engines, powering the final wave of gasoline and diesel cars that will hit the market before they are effectively banned by new emissions rules in 2035.

The European Union on Thursday 10 November proposed stricter emissions rules for the continent’s last generation of combustion engines, a move aimed at reducing particulate pollution in the continent’s cities. 

The bloc said the new rules for the so-called Euro-7 generation of engines would further reduce by about a quarter the amount of nitrous oxides that diesel engines can emit. Nitrous oxides can damage the human respiratory tract, worsening conditions like lung infections and asthma and potentially causing chronic lung disease.

Road transport is the largest source of air pollution in cities,” the EU said in a statement, adding that the new regulations will lead to a third less nitrous oxide emitted by 2035 than current rules allow. “The new Euro 7 standards will ensure cleaner vehicles on our roads and improve air quality, protecting the health of our citizens and the environment.”

Adoption of the rules, which requires approval from member states and the European Parliament, has been delayed several times amid wrangling over their contents. Automotive executives including Carlos Tavares, chief executive officer of Stellantis, have argued the latest steps pose unnecessary burdens on the car industry and will slow the sector’s shift to electrification.

Nitrous-oxide emissions for gasoline engines will remain the same, allowing them to emit 60 milligrams for every kilometer traveled. Diesel engines will also be restricted to that level, a more stringent rule than the 80 milligrams of nitrous oxides allowed under Euro-6 rules.

The proposed rules also set limits for particulate emissions from brakes and tires that will also apply to electric vehicles. Studies have shown brake wear is one of the biggest sources of non-exhaust road traffic emissions in urban areas.

The proposal drew a largely negative reaction from lobbying groups and automakers.

  • Ford Motor, which has split itself into two internal divisions, Ford Blue for traditional combustion-engine cars and Ford-e for electric vehicles, said the proposed regulation “has the potential to undermine the great progress Europe has made in shifting to electric mobility.”  “We should not be diverting resources to yesterday’s technology and invest in zero-emission instead,” Ford said in a statement. “Our goal at Ford is clear: zero-emission by 2030 for all passenger vehicles and for all Ford vehicles by 2035.”
  • The automakers’ lobbying group, ACEA, said Euro 7 the environmental benefit of the proposal is “very limited” compared with the increased cost for vehicles. 
  • It called the proposed implementation dates of July 2025 for cars and July 2027 for heavy trucks “unrealistic, given the huge number of vehicle models and variants that need to be developed, engineered, tested and type approved before then.” 
  • Transport & Environment, an environment advocacy group, said the proposed new standards are “shockingly weak” and that the European Commission “sided with car lobbyists in a move that will greenwash 100 million heavily polluting cars sold in the decade up to 2035.”  
  • CLEPA, the association of suppliers, said the proposal represented a significant step forward, but warned that technical details needed to be finalized as soon as possible to allow technologies to be developed and tested. It called for a lead time of at least 24 months for implementation after such legislation is approved.
  • AECC, the association of catalytic converter makers, also urged quick passage of the final package. "It would be regrettable if delays in the adoption process lead to delays in implementing the new standards and their contribution to air quality improvements," AECC said.
  • VDA, the German automotive industry association, said it would be "hardly possible" to implement Euro 7 by 2025 for light vehicles and 2027 for heavy trucks. "The development and approval of an appropriate drive with a lead time of only one year after the expected completion of the delegated acts is simply not feasible," the group said Thursday 11 November. 

Supporters of the rules argue that some vehicles going on sale between 2025 and 2035 will be sold in the second-hand market and run on the roads for decades. That means more stringent rules on particulate pollution could end up saving thousands of lives, they say.

The rules, part of the European Green Deal aimed at putting the continent’s economy on a sustainable footing, will develop stricter emissions standards for all gasoline and diesel cars, vans, trucks and buses.

The bloc reached a landmark deal  last month to effectively ban new combustion-engine cars from 2035, forcing companies to overhaul their lineups. The push poses risks to employment and vehicle affordability, EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said last week, a signal that a delay in the policy may be possible in 2026.