Euro 7: between a rock and a hard place

As Europe is gearing up for a new set of rules under Euro 7 - and then switching to tailpipe emissions as clean as a whiteboard - the proposal has left every side hanging high and dry. Euro 7 is a moderate adaption of the current standard but has been heavily criticised and faces growing resistance. It even incorporates emissions for electric vehicles. But electric? Indeed, this blog post helps you to get rid of that frown.

All in all, the car makers didn’t see the point of a new emission ruling, as the European Union is confronting them with a de facto ban on the combustion engine in 2035. The write-off of the involved technology cost would be unprofitable, with only one last generation of combustion-engined models left to reap a return from. Why not use that investment to accelerate the development and rollout of zero-emission drivelines, like battery-power and fuel-cell vehicles?

Surely, the debate has been lively. And it didn’t leave the timeline unaffected. The proposal was delayed. And then delayed again. Usually, emission standards are updated with an interval of roughly four years. When Euro 7 comes into place - if at all, with opposition rising as it awaits ratification - the clock will tick 1 July 2025. That’s more than ten years after the Euro 6 standard (2014) was enacted. The new rules will also last a decade and apply to 2035. But what do they entail, exactly?

No greenhouse gases

As a recap: Euro standards only address toxic emissions. Their prime goal is to improve air quality and public health. You won’t find one single gram of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the homologation guideline, as this is not a pollutant but a greenhouse gas. The draft for Euro 7 flattens the current differences between diesel and petrol cars. Both drivelines must meet the same maximum limit for nitrogen oxide (NOx) of 60 mg/km (from 80 mg/km for diesel under Euro 6). An electric catalyst will be needed to preheat the filter system in the exhaust for optimal effect under cold starts.

What’s more, an onboard reader (called OBM) will also monitor the emissions in real-time during the car’s journeys and alert the driver in case of a malfunction. It’s obligatory. It must guarantee that the Euro 7 norm will be respected for at least ten years (or 200,000 kilometres).

But, as a first, Euro 7 incorporates emissions beyond a vehicle's tailpipe. Particle emissions from tyres and brakes are also factored in. It’s called road dust. This is logical, as electrified drivelines push the emissions from the tailpipe to frictional components. For battery-powered vehicles, this has implications. Usually much heavier than conventional cars, they emit more bits and pieces from rubber and braking pads. They will have to make more significant efforts to meet these threshold tolerances. As a solution, sucking filters will be needed. On top of that, there will be durability requirements for the battery packs to boost confidence in electric vehicles on the second-hand market. Under Euro 7, every vehicle is treated on the same foot. So, the same limits apply to cars, vans, buses and trucks. Also this is a first.

“Opinions are split about the effectiveness and the consequences of Euro 7.”

“Should not prevent mobility”

Though more comprehensive than before, the new emission standards only make enemies. The German car industry warns of job losses, while their Minister of Transport Volker Wissing was quoted saying that “ruling should support mobility, not prevent it.” This corner of the debate favours abolishing the Euro 7 rules altogether. It is considered a waste of money because it optimises a technological solution that the politicians themselves believe is a dead-end by 2035.

While opinions are split about the effectiveness and the consequences of Euro 7, the industry agrees that it will make cars more expensive. Even too expensive for specific categories. The involved cost is calculated at roughly 300 euros per vehicle according to the EU. The car makers don’t recognize this figure and mention extra costs ten times higher. Premium and larger cars can absorb this in their price sticker. But this is not the case for smaller city cars, where every penny counts across the value chain, from production to retail. If you wondered why one carmaker after the other is abandoning this category, rising safety and emission costs are the major culprits. Next to the trend toward crossovers.

But not only the automotive industry, and German politics, are stepping on the brakes. Member states like the Czech Republic and Slovakia are also fiercely opposed. Italy is even trying to establish a coalition with these countries, also persuading France and Germany in a bid to reverse the proposal. Mainly by trying to push it beyond the new European elections of 2024.

Written by the sector itself?

Turning the angle, the green lobbying groups showed strong disappointment about the minimalistic progress Euro 7 makes compared to Euro 6. Indeed, the limits are not decisively stricter. The green side calls this ‘a gift to the automotive industry’, even stating that the sector could have written the standards themselves. Experts were pushing for tightening the screws much harder. But that could have made the scenario very unrealistic for car makers, who are already burdened with an unprecedented cost of sourcing, developing and retooling for an entirely electric car fleet. So, the EU deliberately wanted to contain the cost involved as much as it could.


Europe has a lot on its plate as the final approval of the 2035 regulations has caused unsuspected headaches. Euro 7 seems to go down the same road. So, it looks like the proverb that trying to please everyone suits no one is very much in place here. But maybe that’s not the worst of outcomes for the European Commission. If everybody complains, it also means one didn’t lean too much to one side or the other. That might be a good thing in politics, but it certainly stirs the sector.

Geoffrey Heyninck,

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