Germany’s VDMA opposes Euro 7 vehicle emissions standard
Photo of Karl Haeusgen (left) and Harmut Rauen (right) courtesy of VDMA

Germany’s VDMA opposes Euro 7 vehicle emissions standard

VDMA, the Mechanical Engineering Industry Association of Germany, based in Frankfurt am Main, said current plans for the Euro 7 emissions standard represents a ban of internal combustion engines “through the back door.” The upcoming European vehicle emissions standards known as Euro 7, which is part of the European Green Deal, will develop stricter emissions standards for all petrol and diesel cars, vans, lorries and buses.

Representing around 3,200 members, VDMA, which is the largest industry association in Europe, last week published a position paper which emphasizes that the combustion engine remains an important motor for the journey to green mobility.

The European Commission website states that the adoption of the Euro 7 emissions standard will be in the fourth quarter of 2021. The public consultation period closed on November 9, 2020.

The EU Commission wants to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. This great challenge can only be mastered if it is tackled in cooperation with industry – as implied by the “Green Deal”, for example, VDMA said. The Euro 7 emissions standard can also make an important contribution to this, which is supported by the mechanical and plant engineering sector. 

However, the EU is now planning the exact opposite for this standard: tighter regulations are already being considered for 2025, which experts believe would be ecologically and economically misguided, as they would imply the abrupt end of the combustion engine. 

“We are aware that many a politician sees an immediate end to the internal combustion engine as an advantage for the climate – but the opposite is the case,” said VDMA President Karl Haeusgen in view of the upcoming deliberations of the EU Commission on Euro 7. “Especially in this decade, the use of efficient internal combustion engines is still important, even more so since they can be operated in a climate-neutral manner with eFuels in sight and make the mass of existing vehicles more climate-friendly.” 

Hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk

In addition due to the long development times for new engines, investments in further improvements of internal combustion engines are acutely endangered by the currently planned Euro 7 standard, according to VDMA. 

This would mean that hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout Europe would be at stake in the vehicle industry, but also in partner industries such as mechanical engineering or the automotive supply industry, as well as in customer industries such as construction or agricultural technology, the industry association said.

“A tightening and extension of the rules for exhaust emissions is right in principle – but the legislator must concentrate on beneficial and feasible emission reductions. In its current form, Euro 7 would only bring negligible ecological benefits, impede technical progress and at the same time endanger half a million jobs in Germany alone,” Haeusgen said.

The VDMA cited several reasons for its opposition to the draft Euro 7 regulation:

Technically not feasible: The aim is that by 2025, only vehicles that are virtually emission-free at all times during their operation will be allowed to enter service. Such a “zero-emission” vehicle at all times of operation is not feasible with combustion engines by 2025; the regulation represents a ban through the back door. However, many industries and service providers will continue to rely on vehicles with combustion engines for a long time to come and depend on a functioning research¬ landscape and value chain around engine technology: agriculture as well as the construction industry, logistics companies, port operations and fire brigades. An abrupt end to the internal combustion engine for cars and trucks would not only prevent innovation and progress in this technology but would also indirectly endanger the security of supply for people in Europe.

Ecologically questionable: On the one hand, a reduction of the exhaust emission values at the planned level is unnecessary because modern diesel engines are already much cleaner than prescribed. According to the Federal Environment Agency, the real emissions of a Euro 6 diesel car are 40 mg/km – 50% below the current NOx limit. This means that new vehicles are well below the current EU ¬air pollution targets. On the other hand, the EU plans are counterproductive because they ignore climate protection. 

“The EU Commission must not allow itself to be guided by ideology – with the Euro 7 standard now under discussion it would cause enormous collateral damage,” said Hartmut Rauen, deputy executive director of the VDMA. “Technologically desirable progress would also be destroyed with this standard.” 

An abrupt end to the internal combustion engine would inevitably mean that the development of CO2-neutral hydrogen-based fuels to be used in the internal combustion engine would be halted. 

“However, such synthetic fuels are indispensable in order to achieve the EU climate targets at all and to make the existing fleet greener more quickly,” he said.