Vehicle emissions ‒ status of the legislative process for the new Euro 7 regulation
The legislative process
Under the European Green Deal, the European Commission presented a proposal for more stringent air pollutant emission standards for combustion-engine vehicles on 10 November 2022. Specifically, this concerns the proposal for a regulation on type-approval of motor vehicles and engines and of systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles, with respect to their emissions and battery durability (Euro 7). On 22 September 2023, the Council announced its position on this and departed significantly from the Commission’s proposal. The Parliament adopted the Council’s proposed amendments on 9 November 2023.
What changes is Euro 7 likely to bring with it?
In addition to the emissions that are already regulated under current standards, Euro 7 is also intended to set limits for non-exhaust emissions, such as particulates emitted by tyres and brakes. In addition, minimum performance requirements for the durability of electric vehicle batteries are to be introduced, as are stricter requirements for vehicle service life. There are also plans to use new technology in the vehicles to monitor emissions.
The Euro 7 standards are designed to consolidate emission limits for all motor vehicles into a single set of rules. The new provisions are fuel and technology neutral, setting the same limits regardless of what is used to power the vehicle.
Which vehicles and vehicle categories are covered by the Euro 7 regulation?
The standards, now uniformly referred to as Euro 7, are to apply to passenger cars, light-duty vehicles and heavy-duty vehicles. The proposal consolidates the successor standards to Euro 6 (Regulation (EC) No 715/2007) and Euro VI (Regulation (EC) No 595/2009) in a single, uniform legal instrument.
Testing of emissions and emission limits
There is still no consensus with regard to the test standards for determining emissions and on emission limits. Following the Commission’s proposal for new testing technology, the decision published by the Council makes provision for retaining existing testing methods.
There is agreement that, in addition to the limits for exhaust emissions, limits for emissions from tyre abrasion and brake particles will now have to be met by all vehicle categories.
I. Vehicles in categories M1 and N1
With regard to the test conditions for emissions, the Commission proposes using a differentiated test procedure in Annex III of the draft. This builds on the requirements under Euro 6, but extends them and is to be more closely aligned with actual driving emission . As regards emission limits, the Commission is guided by the limits in Euro 6, but no longer distinguishes between spark ignition engines and compression ignition engines.
With regard to the limits and the distinction between spark ignition and compression ignition vehicles in categories M1 and N1, the Parliament agrees with the Commission. The Parliament makes certain changes to the emission limits based on the Council’s proposal and also advocates moving towards a differentiated test procedure by making slight amendments.
By contrast, the Council proposes that the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) and the Real Driving Emission (RDE) tests as defined in Euro 6e be retained as test conditions for M1 and N1 vehicles. The Council wishes to revert to Euro 6 for the exhaust emission limits and evaporative emission limits for M1 and N1 vehicles. The Council opposes limits for refuelling emissions .
II. Vehicles in categories M2, M3, N2 and N3
The Commission wants the test methods for category M2, M3, N2 and N3 vehicles to reflect the specific characteristics of vehicles, while favouring placing greater emphasis on testing the whole vehicle rather than just the engine. The proposal also provides for changes to the design of the limits in order to focus on reducing emissions during cold starts, which are particularly important in urban traffic.
On the other hand, the Council also intends to use the Euro 6 test conditions for vehicles in the M2, M3, N2 and N3 categories with combustion engines. In addition, the Council proposes removing the emission limit for formaldehyde (HCHO) from the exhaust emission limits of these vehicle categories. The Parliament agreed with the Council on the test conditions, but proposes slightly stricter emission limits over-all.
Effective date of the new regulation
The date when the regulation should take effect is disputed between the Commission, Council and Parliament. In any case, it is foreseeable that the Euro 7 regulation, as is customary in type-approval law, will provide for different provisions on its date for entry into force or temporal scope, and will distinguish in particular between categories M1 and N1 on the one hand and categories M2, M3, N2 and N3 on the other.
Euro 7 is intended to introduce stricter requirements for vehicle emissions and minimum performance requirements for the durability of electric car batteries and stricter requirements for the service life of vehicles. In addition, there are plans to use new technology in the vehicles to monitor emissions.
However, the specific emissions standards and which emission limits will be binding, as well as the implementation timeline, are currently unknown. The Council has responded to the Commission’s rather restrictive draft with a more balanced proposal for a compromise, which the Parliament partially supports. The companies affected will have to keep an eye on the legislative process and adapt their processes to it in good time.
We will continue to monitor the legislative process and will update you as soon as it moves forward.