Europe is considering stricter emission standards: what does this mean for your car?

3 min to readSustainability
Since the 1990s, Europe has been working with standards to limit the exhaust emissions of new cars. Constructors must comply with these values when they bring cars to market. The European Commission is currently reviewing a brand new emission standard: Euro 7. What is this standard about and what can be its impact on you as a driver?
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In order to limit the emission of harmful gases, Europe regularly introduces new emission standards that contain guidelines for all vehicles that leave the factory. They specifically focus on the emission of substances such as hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and particulates. The first European standard dates back to 1992 and we are now at Euro 6, a standard that has been introduced in 2014 and has since been extended with a series of substandards. Since January 1, 2021, Euro 6D-full is in effect.

The method of testing has also changed in recent years. A few years ago, the so-called NEDC test cycle had to make way for the new WLTP. The first method was only used for measurements in Europe, while WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure) applies throughout the world. The test should guarantee that cars have low emissions when they are used in real-world conditions on the road, and not just meet expectations in test facilities.

Euro 7 is coming

As announced in communications on the European Green Deal and its ambitious climate targets by 2050, the European Commission is working on a proposal for new and stricter emission standards for cars, vans, buses and trucks. A first draft for this Euro 7 standard was presented in 2020. In an initial public survey, car manufacturers expressed their fear that the new measures will spell the end of the conventional internal combustion engine. The strict values would make it increasingly difficult to develop thermal engines that meet the standard.

What the new Euro standard will ultimately look like, is not clear yet. In fact, there are still three scenarios on the table. The first is a simplification of the rules that apply today. Euro 6 uses different standards for all kinds of vehicles (cars, buses, etc.). This makes regulations very complex and the European Commission wants to replace this distinction by a single emission standard for all vehicle categories.

The second scenario is similar but wants to measure other air pollutants in addition to stricter limits for the previously mentioned substances. The third scenario is the most far-reaching and aims to monitor cars not only during the homologation phase, but over the entire life cycle of the vehicle. Measurement systems in the car would constantly have to collect data on the emission of harmful substances for the purpose of, for example, technical inspection. These plans want to avoid that only ideal conditions are created in the lab and even with the RDE tests.

What does it mean for you?

If Euro 7 is adopted, the measures are likely to take effect in 2025 – possibly in two separate parts (7A and 7B) that start at different times. Some countries, including Belgium, are pushing for an official end date for internal combustion engines, but that will probably not happen. After all, there are combustions engines that are quite clean. In the meantime, some car manufacturers are planning to stop the production of these engines on their own.

At the moment, we should mainly look at the Euro 6D-full standard that became effective in the beginning of this year. New cars with the previous Euro 6D-temp standard are subject to a transition period that expires at the end of the year. Provided these cars were produced before October 2020, they may still be sold and registered during this transition period.

LeasePlan customers do not have to worry about these emissions standards. Belgium is basing its design of low-emission zones largely on the Euro standards. All cars that meet Euro 6 will continue to enjoy free access everywhere until at least 2025. Given the relatively young age of lease cars, they always meet the most important standards. Driven by the new Euro standards, manufacturers are also working on ever greener cars while the range of electric and hybrid vehicles is rapidly increasing. LeasePlan has also expressed the ambition to be emission free by 2030.

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Published at May 26, 2021

May 26, 2021
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