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Here's Why Euro 7 Standards Will Lead to the Demise of Small Cars

European Commission assures us that the price increase per car caused by introducing the new Euro 7 standards will be modest, but the reality is quite different. And here's why.
VW Ad-Blue system 2 injectorsVW PoloVW PoloPeugeot e-208Peugeot e-208

What are the Euro 7 regulations, and when will they be introduced? The European Commission explains that the new pollution standards considered the energy crisis and Europe's galloping inflation. For these reasons, it did not set more stringent limits for the new pollution standards. They will enter into force on July 1, 2025, and will be valid until December 31, 2034. After that date, only full-electric cars will be allowed to be sold in Europe.

The European Commission estimates that the new Euro 7 standards will only lead to a modest increase in the price of a car between €90 and €150. Here's why that cannot be true.

Under Euro 7, diesel NOx (nitrogen oxides) emission limits have been lowered from 80 to 60 mg/km. So, cars with diesel engines will need better catalytic systems. For example, larger diesel engines in the upper classes have AdBlue injection systems with two injectors, compared to one on smaller machines. The introduction of the new two-injector injection system developed by Continental will raise the price by at least €200-300.

The European Commission also says that the NOx limit for petrol engines remains unchanged at 60 mg/km. But it doesn't tell us that a cold emissions test has been introduced. This test stipulates that the first 10 km after starting a car, whether diesel or petrol, must not emit more than 600 mg NOx over the entire 10-km journey.

No one is saying that this cold emissions test is not conclusive for everyday pollution because, especially in cities, most people drive cars on short distances. In such cases, the engine is cold when starting, and emissions are high because the catalytic converter does not warm up immediately.

But heating catalytic converters will quickly require a power source – a heat pump – to heat them almost immediately. Because, for instance, a diesel only reaches optimum temperature after a few kilometers. And this will lead to a general price increase for all internal combustion engines.

Another welcome measure – but I need to know what accurate verification methods there are – is the one concerning the age and the number of kilometers at which cars must meet the new Euro 7 standards.

Under the old Euro 6d standards, cars had to meet the standards for five years and 100,000 km. The European Commission found that the age of the car fleet in Europe is 12 years and decided to extend this limit to 10 years or 200,000 km. The question is, who checks if a car that is eight years old and has 180,000 km on the odometer, still meets this standard? The mechanics that carry out the periodic technical inspection?

A measure that has no effect is the battery life of electric cars. The European Commission says that in the case of electric vehicles, the manufacturer must guarantee the battery for eight years or 160,000 km. During this period, the battery stores at least 70% of its original capacity. But at the moment, all manufacturers offer this minimum guarantee of 8 years or 160,000 km. So the measure has no relevance.

Instead, it would have been relevant to calculate the emissions over the whole life cycle of a car. An electric vehicle consumes electricity that is not 100% from renewable sources and consumes much energy with battery production. For example, Europe's most robust economy, Germany, has a 2021 emissions mix of 401 g CO2 to produce 1 kWh of energy.

This value is extremely high and generates very high emissions as well. Indeed, these emissions are no longer coming out of a car's exhaust pipe in the city, but out of the chimney of a coal-fired power plant in Germany.

Instead, the European Commission is looking for a needle in a haystack, boasting that it has introduced emissions from brake pads and tires. But they have yet to tell us the methodology for measuring them and how much of the total emissions they actually represent, because these figures are irrelevant. So, for example, a large ferry emits more when it leaves a harbor than all the cars in a large European metropolis pollute when they brake.

Conclusion

Although the European Commission is trying to reassure us that the new emissions rules will not lead to an alarming rise in new car prices in the worst period for Europe since the end of the Second World War, the reality is different.

Small-class cars will gradually disappear because the share of a pollution control system in a small car is much higher as a percentage of the price than in an expensive car. For example, VW says the price increase for the VW Polo will be 5,000 euros. However, the cheapest VW Polo costs 20,000 euros, and with the new price increase, it will reach 25,000 euros. So wouldn't they make a small electric car, priced at 35,000 euros, that sells for 25,000 euros after subsidies?

For example, VW plans to build a small SUV called ID.2 in 2025 and has announced that the base price will be under 25,000 euros. But in the current market context, it is hard to believe that this price is feasible. And VW is not saying if this price is after the application of eco bonuses or before. Nor does it tell us what range the base version will have.

All manufacturers probably do this calculation because the Euro 7 regulations will be in force for less than ten years. And then the question arises whether it is worth investing in developing expensive and sophisticated de-pollution systems for a relatively short period instead of directly coming through with an electric car that they can produce for years.

But at 25,000 euros, that electric car will not have a range of more than 250 km real, and the question is how long will governments be able to offer generous subsidies for electric vehicles? Last year 1,205 million electric cars were sold in Europe out of a total market of 11.76 million units. But what will happen when there will only be electric cars? Will governments be able to subsidize 12 million vehicles a year?

And what about charging stations? Europe has some 300,000 stations and needs 1 million by 2025 and 3 million by 2030. Who will build them? Governments are not rushing to develop them.

The new Euro 7 standards will lead to less mobility for many people who can't afford an electric car. And their numbers are growing in the current European crisis.



 
 
 
 
 

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