If the Euro 7 emissions standard comes about as planned, it would have fatal consequences for the automotive industry and customers. More and more experts fear a competitive disadvantage compared to the competition from China and the USA. There is increasing resistance from politics and business, while Renault boss Luca de Meo writes a fire letter.
Luca de Meo doesn’t make a murder den out of his heart. “We should shape the future and not regulate the past,” writes the Renault boss, who acts as President of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), in an open fire letter to the heads of state and government of the EU countries. The reason why the President of the Automobile Association of the European automotive industry addressed politicians with such drastic words right at the beginning of his term of office is the planned introduction of the Euro 7 emissions standard percent would become more expensive and possibly even up to 300,000 jobs in the automotive industry would be at risk. For a 20,000 euro vehicle, that would be between 1,400 and 2,000 euros, while the EU Commission puts the additional costs at just 150 to 450 euros. Especially in the small car sector, the cars would be noticeably more expensive and the supply would be much scarcer. With a model like the Ford Fiesta, a well-known model series has already landed on the eternal parking lot. Other models from the small car segment are to follow.
According to Meo, the consequence is obvious. As new cars become more expensive and unaffordable for many, people simply drive their current vehicles longer. “Which means older cars with higher emissions stay on the road longer,” de Meo said. Thus, the introduction of the Euro 7 standard would achieve exactly the opposite of what is intended by slowing down decarbonisation. According to TÜV Süd, the average age of vehicles on German roads is already 10.1 years – three years ago it was nine and a half years.
“The proposal published by the EU Commission is not based on balance and feasibility, but rather on unrealistic extreme goals. For passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, the reductions in limit values are nominally lower, but the timing cannot be represented: The development and approval of a corresponding drive with a lead time of only one year after the expected conclusion of the delegated legal acts is simply not feasible,” complains Hildegard Müller, President of the Association of the Automotive Industry, “The EU Commission is aware of these facts, but they were apparently deliberately ignored. One thing is clear: we urgently need improvements so that the decision makes sense for everyone.” The fact that limit values are also set for particle emissions from brakes and microplastic abrasion from tires shows how comprehensive the regulatory zeal of the Brussels Commission is. This applies in particular to electric vehicles, which are heavier than comparable combustion engines due to the battery packs. This measure is not entirely undisputed either. “In principle, we support the idea that there should be limit values for particle emissions from brakes in the future. Even if the targeted value of seven milligrams per kilometer is very ambitious and the current measuring technology can hardly measure that reliably,” explains a BMW expert. But that’s not all, because not only do car manufacturers have problems in reaching the limit values, but it is also becoming increasingly difficult to find suitable suppliers. For some, it is simply no longer worthwhile to develop brakes that are then installed in combustion models, as there are more and more signs of their end.
The timeline is also problematic, because according to the current status, the Euro 7 standard for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles should come as early as July 1, 2025 and, in contrast to previous tightening, will probably also apply to existing vehicles. Previously, new emission standards only applied to newly registered vehicles if they received type approval after the changed regulations came into force. This time, Euro 7 would also apply to vehicles that have been on the market for some time and have a corresponding older permit. The consequences would be painful, since for a model that will only be sold for another year or two, it would hardly be worthwhile for the car manufacturer to sharpen the engine, brakes or tires technologically in accordance with the changed regulations. As a result, many car models would probably be phased out with the introduction of Euro 7 on June 30, 2025, although they should have been sold longer otherwise. These gaps in supply could be similar in size for individual manufacturers, such as those caused by the semiconductor crisis or a lack of batteries.
The dark consequences of the planned introduction of the Euro 7 emissions standard do not end there. The European automotive industry could suffer a significant competitive disadvantage compared to its US and, above all, its Chinese competitors. “While Europe regulates the path to zero emissions, other regions are incentivizing this path. The United States and China are massively supporting and promoting their industry, most notably through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Made in China 2025 (MIC) plan,” explains Luca de Meo. This means that the European car manufacturers have to invest financial resources in the implementation of the Euro 7 emissions standard, making it even more difficult to survive in the tough cut-throat competition of electromobility. The ACEA President calculates that the planned implementation of Euro 7 in its current form would force manufacturers of light and heavy commercial vehicles to invest billions of euros in engine and exhaust aftertreatment technology, with minimal environmental benefits. Money that is missing in the development of electric and fuel cell vehicles. What will change with the introduction of the new standard is also the measurement method. In contrast to current tests, driving under full load, in the city center or at high temperatures, even with a cold engine, should also have an influence on the measurement data.
In addition, according to de Meo, by 2030 no more than five percent of the raw materials required for battery production will come from Europe. This dependency only exacerbates the effects. If this scenario occurs, the European automotive industry finds itself in a quandary from which it is almost impossible to escape. This puts a core industry on which the prosperity of many European countries is based in a dangerous slant, which would also pull suppliers and other connected branches of industry into the maelstrom. The effects on the European economies would be fatal. This calls the prime ministers of the three auto federal states of Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Lower Saxony to the scene.
In a letter to Chancellor Olaf Scholz, which is available to the German press agency, German politicians such as Markus Söder (CSU), Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) and Stephan Weil (SPD) have cross-party doubts about the sense of the new emissions standard, which is to become reality as early as 2025. “Whether a further tightening of standards due to other diffuse emission sources will lead to a further significant improvement in air quality seems rather questionable to us,” the document says. The state heads of government have no desire to endure the soup that Brussels is throwing at them and, in the further course of the document, warn that social benefits and economic costs must be proportionate. It is questionable whether this alarm signal can change anything.
I’m a recent graduate of the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism. I started working as a news reporter for 24 Hours World about two years ago, and I’ve been writing articles ever since. My main focus is automotive news, but I’ve also written about politics, lifestyle, and entertainment.