The Euro 7 standard is one of the most anticipated legislations in the automotive industry. It has long been controversial because of its very stringent vehicle emission limits, which for the first time take into account, for example, dusting during brake pad abrasion. For internal combustion cars, it could mean an even faster recall.
When will there be a ban on the sale of internal combustion cars?
In October 2022, the European Parliament and the European Council decided to impose a total ban on the sale of internal combustion cars and trucks, to take effect in 2035. In practice, this means that you won't be able to buy or register hybrid cars either, as all new vehicles in Europe are to be completely zero-emission. As a result, only different types of electric or hydrogen fuel cell cars will already be seen in manufacturers' offer. It is worth noting that buying and selling used internal combustion cars will still be allowed, although the cost of operating them is expected to rise dramatically. As a result, it is even said that the end of the diesel era will come much sooner than originally estimated.
End of internal combustion car production sooner than the EU requires?
However, before the ban on the sale of combustion-engine cars comes into force, the European automotive market has to face further limits introduced under the "Fit for 55" package, among others. The so-called intermediate target is to be a 55% reduction in CO2 emissions from passenger cars and 50% from commercial vehicles scheduled for 2030 relative to 2021. Even earlier, as of 2025, the Euro 7 standard is to come into effect, which, in addition to specific limits on nitrogen oxide emissions, introduces for the first time many additional conditions related to, among other things, particulate emissions, emissions monitoring or even manufacturer notification of potential exceedances and failures. All of this boils down to higher production costs and thus higher prices of combustion cars. According to estimates by Morgan Stanley, the cost of reducing the carbon footprint and bringing their offer into compliance with the new requirements by leading automakers such as Volkswagen and Stellantis likely to be as high as €350-450 million. This will deplete funds for the development of electric cars, which is why many manufacturers have already decided to close internal combustion engine development divisions and eventually withdraw internal combustion cars from their offer much earlier than the European Union requires.
How does the internal vehicle combustion engine work and how much CO2 is actually emitted?
The internal combustion engine turns chemical energy into dynamic energy. Explosions of the fuel-air mixture create gases, which – compressed and expanded – cause the pistons to move and produce torque. The design of a diesel engine differs from that of a gasoline engine – in the former, fuel is injected into the combustion chambers when the air inside is hot enough to cause an explosion. By contrast, in gasoline-powered internal combustion engines, ignition is caused by spark plugs. The very principle of the internal combustion engine makes both solutions generate high emissions. To reduce it, manufacturers are using a variety of increasingly advanced technologies, in the form of particulate filters, catalytic reactors, EGR exhaust gas recirculation systems, tri-functional reactors, electronic control systems for the internal combustion engine and many others. Looking at the data reported by manufacturers, the solutions they use are effective, and the CO2 emissions of passenger cars have fallen dramatically in recent years. According to JATO Dynamics, their average level for cars sold in showrooms in 21 European countries has decreased from 120 g/km in 2015 to 106.7 g/km in 2020. The lowest average was achieved by cars sold in the Netherlands (83.1 g/km), Denmark (90.1 g/km), Portugal (90.8 g/km) and Sweden (93.3 g/km). In 2021, the new increased CO2 emissions limit set in the EU was already 95 g/km.
Will it be possible to drive an internal combustion car after 2035?
Many people are wondering whether it will be possible to use internal combustion cars after the Euro 7 standard comes into force. It is worth knowing that it introduces new emission limits that apply only to car manufacturers and newly manufactured vehicles. Drivers, therefore, only have to expect higher prices for new vehicles with this type of drive. The ban on the sale of internal combustion cars after 2035 also raises many questions. Its introduction does not mean that only zero-emission vehicles will be allowed on European streets. The use and purchase of second-hand combustion cars will also continue to be allowed. The creators of the legislation took into account the average lifespan of combustion cars, which is about 15 years. According to these assumptions, therefore, it can be expected that exclusively zero-emission traffic will be seen on European roads only after 2050.
What requirements will new cars have to meet?
The Euro 7 standard, unlike previous regulations, does not provide for the imposition of further limits on CO2 emissions, as it is intended that from 2035 all new vehicles will be zero-emission. There is, however, a new NOx emission limit for internal combustion engines of 60 mg/km regardless of fuel type. This does not have much impact on gasoline engines, which already have to meet this condition in accordance with the Euro 6 standard. However, the standard for diesel engines has been raised, as it was 80 mg/km until now. At the same time, particulate emissions from car exhaust systems are to be reduced by 13%, as well as brake fluid emissions – by as much as 27%. Dust from the braking system has also been taken into account, but the methods for calculating this parameter are yet to be determined. Cars will also have to meet these requirements for twice as long as before. According to the Euro 6 standard, this is 5 years or 100,000 kilometers, and from 2025 – 10 years or 200,000 kilometers.
The role of EPP components in reducing CO2 emissions of manufactured cars
Manufacturers are using all sorts of measures to reduce the combustion levels of cars, from downsizing internal combustion engines through the development of systems to reduce emissions to the continued reduction of vehicle weight. Car designers must skillfully balance the requirements of environmental protection, safety, structural strength and design. An excellent solution to this problem are modern plastic car parts, which drastically reduce the weight of components, while ensuring their excellent performance. These include foamed polypropylene EPP, the structure of which consists in 95% of air. The cellular material does not permanently deform or disintegrate, so it is successfully used even in passive car safety systems. Due to its excellent thermal and electrical insulating properties, it is also used to manufacture insulating systems for car batteries that protect the cells in the batteries from harmful elements. This way, it also contributes to increasing the lifespan and range of green cars of the future.