IRU cautiously welcomes the European Commission’s Euro 7 proposal to set more ambitious vehicle emission standards.
With CO2 standards for heavy-duty vehicles also on their way, road transport operators are keen to see that their path to carbon neutrality includes several decarbonisation options. Along with hydrogen and electric battery heavy-duty vehicles, the combustion engine needs to remain an option.
IRU therefore backs European Commission efforts to continue proposing solutions to reduce pollutant emissions for vehicles based on all technologies, including the internal combustion engine.
However, IRU is concerned that the stringency of the norms in the Euro 7 proposal may in some cases require vehicles to be completely reengineered, with serious cost implications that are completely disproportionate to the actual benefits.
IRU Director of EU Advocacy Raluca Marian said, “If the Euro 7 proposal doesn’t strike the right balance between the stringency of the rules, associated costs and additional environmental benefits, it could disincentivise and eventually deter manufacturers from developing new technologies or discourage operators from buying them. This will not help put more cleaner vehicles on the road.”
IRU is also cautious about the inclusion of tyres and breaks in the scope of the Euro 7 rules. Despite the importance of considering all vehicle parts that emit pollutants, the proposal lacks clarity on the interplay between main components, such as the engine, and marginal parts, such as tyres and breaks, in classing a vehicle as Euro 7.
“Could a transport operator buy a Euro 7 vehicle and one year later the vehicle is no longer considered a Euro 7 vehicle because worn tyres have been replaced with tyres of a different quality? Would this mean that a vehicle can no longer enter an urban low emission zone because of wear and tear on some parts?” questioned Raluca Marian.
“Businesses need legal certainty to make investments. We expect Euro 7 rules to be pragmatic and clear on these aspects,” she added.
On a positive note, Euro 7 simplifies test procedures and improves the efficiency of drivers and transport operators by enhancing digitalisation related to continuous emission monitoring. But access to in-vehicle data for the purpose of such monitoring is still vague and needs to be clarified in upcoming legislation.
Additional facts and figures
There are currently about 7 million heavy-duty vehicles on EU roads, of which over 96% are fuelled by diesel. The penetration of alternative fuel technologies is slow.
Concerning coaches and trucks weighing 40 tonnes or more, alternative fuelled vehicles have just started to hit the market. Finding feasible solutions to improve combustion engine technologies is key for the decarbonisation of heavy-duty fleets, alongside the slow uptake of battery electric and hydrogen cell vehicles.
Eurostat’s latest figures show that more than three quarters of total EU inland freight transport are carried by road, a rate that has increased steadily over recent decades.
According to the European Commission, demand for freight transport in the EU is expected to grow by more than 60% up to 2050. Even if we assume that a substantial share of freight will be taken up by other modes of transport, which is necessary to cope with the forecasted increase, the share and number of vehicles on the road will have to remain significant to meet demand.