The European Commission has published proposals to reduce exhaust emissions from vehicles fitted with combustion engines.
This is despite the fact that members of the European Union agreed last month to sell only emission-free cars from 2035, effectively banning sales of new petrol and diesel cars in the EU from then. that time.
But traditional vehicles are likely to be a major part of cars on European roads for decades. Officials estimate that by 2050 a fifth of cars in the EU will still have combustion engines and more than half of heavier vehicles will.
The proposed emissions reforms, known as Euro 7, would apply to all new cars and vans sold in the EU from July 2025 and to trucks two years later. They set a maximum emissions limit for health-damaging pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) which affect air quality in many European cities.
Road transport pollution is estimated to cause around 70,000 premature deaths in the EU every year, as EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton pointed out on Thursday. “Our proposal will make a real difference,” Breton told a press conference in Brussels.
Expansion of standards
The new rules slightly tighten, but do not radically change, basic emissions standards in many cases, climate campaigners and green politicians were quick to point out – although trucks and buses face higher limits. strict.
The Commission considers the proposals to be an improvement in other respects; they widen the range of driving conditions probed in emissions tests, for example. In addition, cars and vans should also be checked for compliance until they are 10 years old and have covered 200,000 kilometres, which doubles the requirements of the current Euro 6 standard.
Tire and brake emissions, a major issue for electric vehicles, would also be covered for the first time. For electric cars, there would also be standards ensuring good battery performance over time.
Overall, these changes would cut NOx emissions for cars by a third and for buses and trucks by half by 2035, the European Commission said in a press release.
In a nod to Dieselgate – when it emerged in 2015 that carmaker Volkswagen had installed so-called defeat device software in millions of diesel cars to manipulate emissions testing – Euro 7 standards would use sensors built into vehicles to monitor pollution, according to the press release. .
For consumers, a tiny increase in costs
For consumers, the changes will increase the cost of new cars by around €120 ($122) to €150 or around 1%, according to European Commission estimates. For trucks and buses, they will add around 2-3%, or €2,700, EU officials told reporters at a press briefing.
For Transport & Environment, a European campaign group for cleaner transport, this relatively small increase is a major missed opportunity. Technologies are available that could halve toxic pollution and cost just 300 euros per car, the group said in a press release.
Capitulation to automakers?
“The proposals for the cars are so weak that the car industry could have drafted them themselves. Despite record profits, the carmakers sold the Commission a lie that an ambitious Euro 7 is unaffordable,” Anna said. Krajinska, head of vehicle emissions and air quality at the campaign group, in the statement.
Michael Bloss, a German member of the European Parliament from the Greens, said that according to the Commission’s own calculations, even stricter emissions standards would have cost carmakers a maximum of €500 more to produce each car.
“The European Commission is capitulating to lobbying,” he wrote in a statement released on Tuesday. “It is not a proposition, but an indictment, as it does not prescribe any new standards for passenger cars.”
As for European automakers, they are also critical of the proposed standards, saying they divert effort and resources from the push for electrification. The European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) said in a statement that the proposal “risks slowing the transition to zero-emission transport”.
The proposal must be approved by EU member states and the European Parliament to become law and could be revised during negotiations. These will probably end next year.
Edited by: Kate Hairsine