In a significant development, European Union ministers came to an agreement on Monday to amend a proposal from the European Commission regarding new vehicle regulations. This decision was prompted by concerns raised by eight member states, including France and Italy, who believed that the proposed changes could lead to a redirection of investments away from the growing electric vehicle (EV) industry.
For over three decades, the European Union has been consistently tightening regulations on emissions from road vehicles, starting in 1992. The latest proposal from the Commission, known as “Euro 7,” was designed to introduce new standards specifically addressing particle emissions from vehicle brakes and tires.
What are the Euro 7 standards?
Euro 7 represents the next-generation of vehicle emission standards in the European Union, set to be implemented in two phases. The first phase is scheduled for initiation in 2025 and is tailored for light-duty vehicles, spanning the category of cars and vans. Subsequently, the second phase is set to debut in 2027 and is aimed at heavier vehicles, encompassing trucks and buses.
It is more stringent than the current Euro 6 standards, with stricter limits on tailpipe emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM), and other pollutants. It has introduced new limits on non-exhaust emissions, such as brake dust and tire wear.
While the specific details of Euro 7 are still under development, the European Commission has proposed the following key elements:
- Tailpipe emissions: It aims at reduction of NOx emissions from light-duty vehicles by 35% and PM emissions by 13%, compared to Euro 6. For heavy-duty vehicles, NOx emissions will be reduced by 56% and PM emissions by 39%.
- Non-exhaust emissions: Euro 7 will introduce new limits on brake dust and tire wear emissions from light-duty vehicles. Brake dust emissions will be reduced by 27%, and tire wear emissions will be reduced by 10%.
- Real-world driving emissions: It includes new tests to ensure that vehicles meet emission limits in real-world driving conditions.
- Durability: New standards require vehicles to meet emission limits for a longer period of time and mileage than Euro 6.
Response of the member countries
France, Italy, and the Czech Republic have advocated for less stringent regulations, arguing that the proposed limits on pollutants, particularly nitrous oxides from combustion engines, could divert resources away from the electric vehicle (EV) sector. These countries are home to a number of iconic automakers, such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati, which produce high-performance vehicles with combustion engines.
Whereas Germany and the Netherlands have expressed support for the stricter rules, arguing that they are necessary to protect public health and improve air quality. Notably, these countries already have a number of environmental policies in place and are committed to reducing air pollution.
Spain, currently holding the rotating presidency of the European Union, has presented a compromise proposal that was approved by the Council of the European Union. The proposal keeps the existing Euro 6 testing conditions and emissions limits for passenger cars and vans, but imposes lower limits for buses and heavy vehicles. It also introduces new particle emissions standards for brakes and tires.
Héctor Gómez Hernández, Spain’s acting minister for industry, trade, and tourism, stated that they believe their proposal strikes a balance between broad support, cost considerations for manufacturers, and enhanced environmental benefits resulting from the regulations.
The final form of the Euro 7 rules will depend on the outcome of the negotiations between the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament, and the European Commission. It is likely that the Euro 7 rules will have a significant impact on the automotive industry, regardless of their final form. Automakers will need to invest in new technologies to meet the stricter emission limits. This could lead to higher vehicle costs for consumers. However, the Euro 7 rules are also expected to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, which could have long-term environmental benefits.