Mixed reaction to Euro 7 proposals

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

The European Commission has published a proposal to reduce air pollution from new motor vehicles sold in the EU to meet the European Green Deal's zero-pollution ambition, while at the same time keeping vehicles affordable for consumers and promoting Europe's competitiveness.  

The new requirements will form the basis of Euro 7 standards and bring together regulations for cars, including EVs as well as LCVs buses and trucks. 

The new rules will update and tighten the limits for pollutant emissions, with limits tightened for lorries and buses while the lowest existing limits for cars and vans will now apply regardless of the fuel used by the vehicle. The new rules also set emission limits for previously unregulated pollutants, such as nitrous oxide emissions from heavy-duty vehicles.

Significantly for the first time the rules will regulate emissions from brakes and tyres, with the Euro 7 standards rules the first worldwide emission standards to move beyond regulating exhaust pipe emissions and set additional limits for particulate emissions from brakes and rules on microplastic emissions from tyres. These rules will apply to all vehicles, including electric and could signal the start of a move away from heavier SUV type EVs, which produce more particulate matter than lighter EVs.  

All vehicles will need to comply with the rules for a longer period with compliance for cars and vans checked until these vehicles reach 200,000 kilometres and 10 years of age. This doubles the durability requirements existing under Euro 6/VI rules (100,000 kilometres and 5 years of age). Similar increases will take place for buses and lorries.

The regulations will also regulate the durability of batteries installed in cars and vans in order to increase consumer confidence in electric vehicles. This will also reduce the need for replacing batteries early in the life of a vehicle. 

The commission says Euro 7 rules will also ensure that vehicles are not tampered with and emissions can be controlled by the authorities in an easy way by using sensors inside the vehicle to measure emissions throughout the lifetime of a vehicle.

The proposal also contains cold start regulations which would mean new petrol and electric vehicles would need electrically heated e-catalysts that could delay vehicle starting by 30 seconds. 

Subject to EU parliamentary and Council approval the rules would come into force in July 2025. The target for 2035of Euro 7 is to lower total NOx emissions from cars and vans by 35% compared to Euro 6, and by 56% compared to Euro VI from buses and lorries. At the same time, particles from the tailpipe will be lowered by 13% from cars and vans, and 39% from buses and lorries, while particles from the brakes of a car will be lowered by 27%.

The proposal has met a mixed reaction with both environmentalist and car makers critical. The manufacturers argue that Euro 7 will slow much needed investment in EV implementation for little environmental benefit , while the green lobby believe that regulations have been watered down to appease car makers. 

Long term the key aspect of the Euro 7 proposal is recognition that emissions are not just limited to tailpipes. Limits on particulate matter from brakes and tyres will bring about significant change and will mean lower emission tyres and brake pads have to be introduced. Significantly, this will bring EV emissions into focus.  

The Commission's proposal will now be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council for adoption.