The car world vacillates between hope and doom and gloom. One reason is the planned European emission standard Euro 7, with which the harmful nitrogen oxide and particle emissions are to be reduced. What is initially good for the air quality is currently spoiling the manufacturers’ mood. “Air pollution control is an integral part of our Ambition 2039,” explains Daimler, for example, on request. But the scenarios currently being discussed are “technically not feasible from our point of view”.
The ice seemed almost broken in the months of discussions between the auto lobby and EU advisors. Just three weeks ago, the Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) gave the all-clear. “The submitted plans for the new Euro 7 standard for cars show that the EU Commission has accepted the limits of what is technically feasible and has said goodbye to unattainable goals,” explained VDA President Hildegard Müller. “That is a good sign for the citizens of Europe and also for environmental protection.”
There can now be no talk of so much optimism. After another meeting of the EU advisory committee AGVES in Brussels last week, the manufacturers are currently analyzing the specific consequences of Euro 7 in the currently recommended form from 2026. In particular, the technical details of the EU7 regulation would decide whether an internal combustion engine will still be capable of approval and approval in the future, it says. What the experts have been able to decipher so far is arousing the worst fears in the industry. “The introduction of EU7 must not be a ban on combustion through the back door,” says a Daimler spokesman on request.
While the International Council on clean Transportation (ICCT), whose representatives are also taking part in the Euro 7 consultations, only speaks of marginal additional expenses for the car manufacturer, the manufacturers see serious consequences for the industry in the current state of negotiations. The requirements are so extensive that an internal combustion engine alone cannot meet them. Measuring methods, measuring devices and measuring tolerances would hardly give him a chance.
The emission values are particularly problematic in the cold start phase. if the exhaust gas cleaning has not yet reached its working temperature and thus its optimal efficiency. Bridging this timeframe is now of crucial importance, according to the VW group. If a mild hybridization is sufficient to meet the Euro 7 emissions standard, the financial outlay would probably still be manageable. “We fear, however, that a 48-volt system will not be sufficient,” explains a top manager.
In this case, they speak of a horror scenario in Wolfsburg. Because the “forced hybridization” would be one thing first and foremost: expensive. According to expert estimates, the additional costs for the technical upgrade amount to several thousand euros per vehicle. While such sums would quickly disappear in the price catalog for an Audi A8, corresponding additional costs for smaller models would also have an immediate impact on the sales payments. Small cars would lose their cost advantage and so would customers. From the VW environment there is therefore talk of an impending mobility brake for low-wage earners.
“The situation is serious for the German auto industry,” says a top official in Berlin. Here, too, the EU’s emissions plans are ambiguous. “We mustn’t lose the automotive industry in Europe,” warned Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) weeks ago. To prevent this from happening, his house appeals to the EU Commission to keep an eye on both the environmental and climate policy goals and the industrial and employment policy consequences when making the decision that is due in autumn. A precise analysis of the costs and benefits is essential. However, there is apparently not yet a coordinated position with the Federal Environment Ministry.
“The transformation to emission-free mobility takes time and is already being managed today through CO2 legislation, subsidies for buyers and infrastructure,” said Daimler. “It is fundamentally our clear goal to prepare ourselves for future emissions targets in terms of development – as far as this is possible today.”