At the end of this year, the European authorities must decide on new emission standards. From 2025 onwards, all new vehicles will have to conform with them. Until now, it seemed a foregone conclusion that no combustion engine vehicle would be able to meet them. However, things might not be as bad as expected.
France in the spotlight
Although France is one of the most autophobic countries in Europe, recently, its Chancellor of the Exchequer, Bruno Le Maire, spoke out in favour of the automotive industry. He acknowledged that European standards should be « encouraging » rather than « destructive » for the French car industry. He added that « let’s make it clear that for the time being, the future Euro 7 standards do not suit us ». That’s loud and neat ! This seems to presage a welcome awareness, especially after highly punitive taxes on new cars were decided in France… and obviously this is being even harmful for its own national manufacturers. In Germany, car industry workers have already been fighting the forthcoming Euro7 standards for some time. We can only hope such a position will also be supported by the authorities of other EEC countries where the car industry represents important economic and social stakes : Italy, Spain, Poland… to name just a few of them.
So far, what do we know about the Euro 7 standards?
European authorities should decide on new emission regulation next Autumn. These Euro 7 standrads standards will rule from 2025 onwards. They will impose further reductions of CO2 and NOx emissios. For the first time, they will also cover methane (CH4), ammonia and nitrous oxide (N2o). For the moment, laboratories are working on the subject with the utmost discretion, of course… The aim would be a 60 to 90% reduction of emissions levels for these pollutants, compared to Euro 6d standards. Let’s not forget that manufacturers are already facing huge mandatory investments in electric motors, and these changes would be a new blow to them. No doubt they would all be forced to abandon combustion engines… with very heavy consequences on employment! And this would make new cars even less accessible for a majority of citizens, already side-lined by the price of electric vehicles.
France going to the barricades
The « Automotive Platform » has joined forces with leading manufacturers and suppliers to draft proposals that are more acceptable to the industry. It seems that the test protocol, which was supposed to take into account all conditions of use of a vehicle, on all roads, in all weather conditions, has been set aside. The same applies to the fact that emissions are to be taken into account from the fifth kilometre travelled, whereas today they are only taken into account from the sixteenth kilometre, and to the removal of the tolerance factor between laboratory and road conditions, which the European Parliament wanted to remove. In addition, commercial vehicles could also benefit from slightly more flexible approval conditions than passenger cars. Let’s not forget that the transformation of an industry and its conversion cannot be decided in 2 seconds… and it will require substantial investments if the real desire is to limit job losses… Let’s hope that the European authorities understand the real stakes and stop playing China’s game in supporting exclusively electric vehicles ! (Translation: Dimitri Urbain)