European Union ministers have diluted a European Commission proposal on Euro 7 emission levels, but only for cars and vans - trucks and buses will still need to meet tougher emission standards under Euro 7 regulations.
The changes to the proposals follow concerted lobbying from a number of EU countries. Under the amendments, the pollution limits for cars and vans would remain the same as under Euro 6. However limits for HGVs will be lowered and test conditions slightly adjusted.
The Council also unanimously backed limits for emissions from brakes and tyres, the first instance of such rules, as well as new standards on the durability of electric vehicle batteries.
The decision to retain lower emissions for trucks under Euro 7 regulations has not been welcomed by truck manufacturers, who argue that meeting the more stringent Euro 7 emission standards will divert their efforts to make the transition to electric and hydrogen powered vehicles.
The European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission must now negotiate a final agreement on the new regulations.
Announcing the changes, Spain's Héctor Gómez Hernández, acting minister for industry, trade and tourism, said: "We believe that, with this proposal, we achieved broad support, a balance in the investment costs of the manufacturing brands and we improve the environmental benefits derived from this regulation."
The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) gave a mixed response. ACEA director general, Sigrid de Vries, said: "The member states’ position is an improvement on the European Commission’s Euro 7 proposal – which was entirely disproportionate, driving high costs for industry and customers, with limited environmental benefits.
She added: "The Council’s aim to continue the effective Euro 6/VI tests is sensible. However, compared to what is in place today, Euro 7 is much broader for new cars, vans and, in particular, heavy-duty vehicles, requiring significant engineering and testing efforts. As such, it will require huge additional investments from our industry at a time when it is pouring all its resources into decarbonisation.”
She continued: “Our industry is fully committed to tackling air pollution and climate change. We now call on member states, the European Parliament, and the Commission to work towards a Euro 7 regulation that will enable us to focus on these dual objectives while keeping vehicles affordable and our sector competitive.”
"The EU already has one of the world’s most comprehensive and stringent approaches to pollutant emissions from vehicles, such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particles. State-of-the-art technology means that exhaust emissions are barely measurable," she claimed.
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Manufacturers have campaigned hard for changes, lining up OEM leaders to voice their concerns in a recently launched ACEA-led video campaign.
Martin Daum, Daimler Truck chairman took part, warning of the challenges manufacturers face to meet Euro 7 standards. He said: "It would be a big misunderstanding to think that Euro 7 would just be about changing one single vehicle component.
"To comply with Euro 7 manufacturers would need to invest heavily in research development, production, and testing facilities.
"Bottom line, it would cost our industry billions of euros and this would inevitably lead to higher prices for transportation and for customers. So Euro 7 would not be cheap at all, particularly for the environment."
Marco Licardo, Iveco Group chief technology officer also weighed in. He said: "In its current form, the timeline that the commission has established for light commercial vehicles is extremely challenging. For OEMs to produce 3.5 tonne vehicles that are Euro 7 compliant by summer 2025 is easier said than done. And the summer 2027 deadline for commercial vehicles weighing more than 3.5 tonnes will be difficult. "
He added: "Iveco supports the EU standards but we request that the Commission provide the adequate lead times to develop and implement the required the new technologies and parameters that do not divert resources from other strategic advancements - in this case, our electrification and energy programmes."
Alexander Vlaskamp, CEO of MAN Truck and Bus, warned that the Euro 7 proposal would tie up "significant" financial and human resources, which MAN estimates would cost 1 billion Euros, and these should be put towards developing zero emission vehicles insterad.
He called for a streamlined andholistic regulatory approach to support the transition to zero emission technologies and a move to enabling recharging infrastructures and hydrogen refuelling facilites.
However OEMs face concerted opposition from environmental campaigners, who will continue to lobby the EU for tougher measures on emissions.
Anna Krajinska, vehicle emissions and air quality manager at the campaign group Transport and Environment, said the council position on Euro 7 is a "disaster" which puts manufacturers' profits before people. She called on the European Parliament, which gets the final say on the amendments, to ensure a "meaningful" Euro 7 regulation.