A fierce debate has broken out in Germany about the details of the future EU emissions standard Euro 7 for combustion vehicles. After the prime ministers of the "automotive states" of Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Lower Saxony called on Chancellor Olaf Scholz to renegotiate on Thursday, Bosch boss Stefan Hartung defended the new standard in principle.
“Many millions of internal combustion engines will still be built before mobility is fully electrified. That's why it's right to continue developing engines at the location," said Hartung in Stuttgart. Otherwise you will be driving with outdated technology in ten years. "But it makes no sense to design Euro 7 in such a way that it is no longer economically possible to build engines at all." However, the Bosch boss shares the criticism of the details of the EU Commission's proposal.
It cannot be that the regulation provides for things that are technically not possible or have not yet been invented, including special sensors that are intended to measure the pollutants in commercial vehicle drives.
The EU Commission's draft for the new emissions directive has been available since last November. The national governments and the EU Parliament are currently negotiating the specific structure. The standard mainly relates to the emission of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.
For the first time, the regulation also includes fine dust emissions caused by braking and tire abrasion. This part should also apply to electric cars.
The car manufacturers have already criticized the future regulation. The head of the Volkswagen brand, Thomas Schäfer, warned, for example, that the new requirements could make combustion vehicles more expensive by up to 5,000 euros.
In their letter, Prime Ministers Markus Söder (CSU), Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) and Stephan Weil (SPD) questioned the fundamental goal of regulation: “It seems whether a further tightening of standards due to other diffuse sources of immission will lead to a further significant improvement in air quality rather questionable for us.” The social benefit and the economic costs must be in an appropriate relationship.
The EU Commission is arguing that the particulate matter and nitrogen oxide emissions from traffic in large cities make many people ill and are said to have led to around 70,000 premature deaths in Europe in 2018 alone. The aim of the new limit values is to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from passenger cars by 35 percent by 2035 and to halve those from buses and trucks.
In major German cities, however, nitrogen oxide pollution is no longer a major issue. This is shown by data from the Federal Environment Agency. The Euro 6 standard has already greatly reduced these emissions in new diesel engines.
The authority now sees particulate matter as the greater health problem. Only a small proportion of these particles come from the exhaust pipe, but they are mainly produced when braking and due to tire wear.
While a modern engine only emits one microgram of fine dust per kilometer, a disk brake comes up to values of five to 40 micrograms, according to the auto supplier Mann Hummel.
The family business could make money from the new regulation because it offers filter housings for such brakes. Alternatively, car manufacturers could also install drum brakes again - with this variant, the fine dust simply remains in the housing.
The prime ministers warned of the time pressure that the reform will create. According to the draft, the new limit values should come into force in July 2025 for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles and in July 2027 for heavy commercial vehicles. Developing new vehicles usually takes much longer.
The scheduled time was "too tight," said Bosch boss Hartung. There is a risk that some car models will not be available for a while. "We cannot raise all engines to Euro 7 at the same time." In the transformation to electromobility, the number of combustion engine variants will decrease significantly in any case, until it falls to zero in the EU in 2035.
New engine developments would mean additional business for the supplier. The car manufacturers, on the other hand, want to avoid investing in the phased-out combustion engine segment as far as possible. You already have to invest billions in the development of electromobility.
The FDP expressed concern that this process could be accelerated by Euro 7. A "ban on combustion engines through the back door" means "the premature end for thousands of jobs in Germany," said Judith Skudelny, spokeswoman for environmental and consumer protection for the FDP parliamentary group.
It is precisely this indirect ban on combustion engines that climate lobbyists like Transport want
The manufacturers, on the other hand, warn against this lightning changeover through strict regulation, because there is still no charging network for trucks. In addition, there is also a lack of personnel for a new diesel development. The VW commercial vehicle division Traton has already moved a large part of its engine developers to other areas, especially e-mobility. Competitor Daimler Trucks brings its engine divisions into joint ventures with special engine manufacturers.
Truck manufacturers are particularly nervous about the debates in Brussels. Because in addition to the Euro 7 rules, there is a new regulation for the CO₂ fleet emissions for vehicles over 16 tons.
The EU Commission's proposals on this are expected for February 14. It is still open whether she will also propose a de facto ban on combustion engines for heavy commercial vehicles from 2035, as is the case for passenger cars. The fear in the industry of being overwhelmed by these requirements is great. It has also spread to the prime ministers.
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