Deal? Euro 7 standard

The EU Commission is planning the Euro 7 standard which will be placing stringent demands on vehicle manufacturers. A set of regulations is intended to limit pollutant emissions of all vehicle classes across all drive types. An introduction date for the new regulation is yet to be set.

On 1 July 1992, the Euro 1 emissions standard entered into force as the first regulation for homologated passenger cars (applicable to newly registered vehicles from 1 January 1993). Since then, the European Commission has continuously adapted the directives on the pollutant emissions of passenger cars, light goods vehicles and HGVs.

Since 1 September 2023, the Euro 6e (EA) emissions standard has applied to homologated passenger cars. It is intended as the first transitional stage to the planned Euro 7 standard, which will apply to newly registered passenger cars from 1 September 2024. Compared with Euro 6d, as part of which the WLTP test procedure was introduced on 1 September 2018, the European Commission has further cut the CF factor for real-world driving emissions (NOx and PN).

Designations in detail

Let's break it down: the abbreviation WLTP stands for Worldwide Harmonised Light Duty Vehicle Test Procedure. Compared with the old NEDC test procedure (New European Driving Cycle), the procedure provides more practical fuel consumption and emission values. The WLTP cycle, including new test cycles, is also intended to better reflect actual driving situations. In fact, the test also takes place on an indoor roller test bench, albeit under strictly standardised conditions and with different load cycles. However, vehicles with different engine types and designs react very differently on the road than on the test bench, and consumption and exhaust emission values sometimes differ significantly from the WLTP test. In an effort to tackle this problem, the Euro 6d-temp emissions standard also introduced the so-called RDE test (real-world driving emissions) as a kind of validation procedure. This refers to the measurement of emissions properties in real-world road operation in cities, on country roads and motorways. The regulation has applied to newly homologated cars since 1 September 2017 and to newly registered cars since 1 September 2019 and it therefore supplements the WLTP procedure.

Conformity factor

The so-called CF factor (conformity factor) is used to continuously adapt and cut nitrogen oxide (NOx) limit values as well as limit values for the number of particles (PN/particles per km). These tolerance allowances are used to compensate for statistical and technical inaccuracies that can occur during RDE measurements. For Euro 6d-ISC-FCM, which is still valid for newly registered vehicles until 31 August 2024, the CF factor for NOₓ is 1.43 and 1.5 for the number of particles (PN).

When will the Euro 7 standard be introduced?

CF values of 1.1 for NOₓ and 1.34 for the number of particles (PN) apply to the Euro 6e standard, valid since 1 September 2023 for homologation and from 1 September 2024 for newly registered vehicles. According to ADAC (largest German motoring association), Euro 6e will be introduced in two further stages from 1 January 2025 (and from 1 January 2026 for newly registered vehicles) as well as from 1 January 2027 (and from 1 January 2028 for newly registered vehicles). In this process, the conformity factor (CF) will be continuously cut. Euro 6e stipulations are regarded as a transitional phase towards the Euro 7 standard, the introduction of which has been announced for 2025. However, the exact date is still uncertain.

In addition, measuring the number of particles within the scope of the new German emissions test directive for workshops has led to quite a bit of exasperation. Deadlines for its introduction were repeatedly postponed, partly due to devices being unavailable or issues with their prescribed calibration. Measuring the PN itself makes sense, as it increases the significance of the DPF function and makes it possible to draw conclusions about faulty add-on parts involved in the combustion process.

Euro 7 standard: innovations introduced by the EU Commission

One key innovation of the Euro 7 standard is that there is no longer a distinction between passenger cars and light commercial vehicles (LCVs), HGVs and buses/coaches, as had previously been the case. According to the EU Commission, emission limits are bundled in a single set of regulations. Sounds transparent. Manufacturers of heavy commercial vehicles are granted a two-year extension.

In addition, the new emissions standard also applies to electric vehicles, as the standard is designed to be neutral in terms of fuel and technology. This means that in addition to pollutant emissions from combustion engines, particulate emissions from brake and tyre wear are also taken into account in the Euro 7 standard. Emissions caused by brakes should be less of a problem for electric vehicles, as the brakes are applied less compared with vehicles featuring combustion engines.

For electric vehicles, the Euro 7 standard will, for the first time, also be introducing requirements regarding the durability of batteries. After five years or 100,000 kilometres, their energy capacity must not have dropped below 80 percent of the original value, and after eight years or 160,000 kilometres it must be no less than 70 percent.

As far as passenger cars and HGVs are concerned, ammonia (NH₃) is now being added to the previously applicable limit values for nitrogen oxides (NOₓ), carbon monoxide (CO), particulate matter (PN) and hydrocarbons (HC). According to ADAC, NH3 plays a key role in the formation of inner-city smog. The EU Commission is also planning to restrict the levels of formaldehyde (CH₂O) and nitrous oxide (N₂O) in HGVs, while limit values for combustion engine pollutants will not be reduced. Instead, they remain at the lowest Euro 6 level applicable to the respective drive types and vehicle classes.

Measurements in real-world road operation are also becoming more important within the context of the new Euro 7 standard. These will be extended to include temperatures of up to 45 degrees Celsius and short trips. According to ADAC, the conformity factor (CN), which allows deviations from the measured test bench value (WLTP), will be abolished.

In addition, plans by the EU Commission dictate that the requirements regarding the period of time, i.e. the duration within which vehicles must comply with the corresponding limit values, will be doubled compared with the Euro 6 standard. Conformity for passenger cars and vans will be monitored until the vehicles have reached a mileage of 200,000 kilometres and are 10 years old.

Last but not least, the aim is to make all vehicles tamper-proof. For example, vehicle manufacturers must guarantee that speedometers, injection systems or control units cannot be manipulated. Consideration is also being given to an onboard monitoring system (OBM) that is capable of identifying and displaying when emissions are exceeded.

According to the EU Commission, the introduction of the Euro 7 standard is intended to reduce NOx (nitrogen oxide) emissions generated by passenger cars and vans by 35 percent by 2035 compared with Euro 6 and NOx emissions by buses/coaches and HGVs by 56 percent compared with Euro 6. At the same time, particulate matter emissions are planned to be cut by 13 percent for passenger cars and vans and by 39 percent for buses/coaches and HGVs.

Background: Green Deal

The "Green Deal" is a cross-sector and holistic approach by the European Union to become climate-neutral by 2050. It involves political initiatives and regulations to enable the EU and its member states to implement a green transition.

Green Deal initiatives include the "Fit for 55" package. This package translates the Green Deal's climate targets into legal acts. The aim is to adapt EU legislation to the EU's climate targets and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by 2030.

At the end of March 2023, the European Council adopted a regulation to tighten CO₂ emissions standards for new passenger cars and new light commercial vehicles as part of the "Fit for 55" package. According to the Council, the new regulations are intended to reduce emissions caused by road transport, which accounts for the highest proportion of transport-related emissions. According to the Federal German Environment Agency, the road transport sector's share of the total CO₂ emissions in Germany has increased from around 13 percent in 1990 to 19.4 percent in 2021. This comes as a result of the increase in heavy goods transport and individual mobility. The new Euro 7 emissions standard is intended make a lasting contribution to implementing the Green Deal. The aim is to give the automotive industry the right impetus to switch to zero emissions mobility while simultaneously ensuring on-going innovations within the sector.

The European Council's regulations include a 55 percent reduction in CO₂ emissions for new passenger cars and a reduction of 50 percent for new HGVs between 2030 and 2034 as well as a 100 percent reduction in CO₂ emissions for new passenger cars and HGVs from 2035 (based on values from 2021). The Council is also taking into account so-called e-fuels. Accordingly, following the involvement of stakeholders and in accordance with EU law, the EU Commission will present a proposal for the authorisation of vehicles that run exclusively on CO₂-neutral fuels as of 2035, outside the scope of the emissions standards applicable to vehicle fleets.

Euro 7 standard is causing scepticism among those involved

In actual fact, the planned introduction of the new, stricter Euro 7 emissions standard is leading to scepticism, especially in the automotive industry. The fear is that the time required to develop high-performance emissions systems and integrate them into the engine management system is far too short. In addition, there are claims that the costs for new vehicles would increase dramatically due to the complex technology. Prices, especially for small passenger cars, may rise disproportionately. The EU Commission takes a different view. It assumes additional costs of merely 80 to 150 euros per vehicle. The German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) and the ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers Association), on the other hand, are apprehensive of significantly higher additional costs, in some cases by a factor of four to ten. In addition, the methods to measure particulate matter emitted by brakes and tyres under comparable conditions is far from clear.

Consequently, there are still questions about Euro 7 and the EU Commission as well as in involved committees work very slowly. Ultimately, EU member states must adopt the regulations with a corresponding majority. Deal?