New Delhi: Very stringent Euro 7 emissions standards are needed to improve air quality, both in Europe and globally. It is a critical goal. The new air quality standards set by the UN for 2024 demanded even stricter emissions, especially in urban areas, according to Wilfried Mueller, Senior Vice President of Automotive Catalysts Global Research & Technology, Product Management at Umicore, Germany. He said Umicore actively contributed to the legislative process through scientific research and practical demonstrations in Europe.Mueller was addressing a recent international conference hosted by the Emission Control Manufacturers Association (ECMA), where industry leaders and experts gathered to discuss the pressing issue of air quality and emissions control on the theme: ‘Leaping to Cleaner Air for Tomorrow’.
In his keynote address Mueller showcased studies and demonstration projects to illustrate the potential of existing technologies to achieve close-to-zero emissions in both light and heavy-duty vehicles. He also presented various demonstration projects to highlight the industry’s capabilities in achieving cleaner, close-to-zero emission powertrains.
Mueller shed light on the Euro 7 legislations that had been shrouded in confusion in recent months. He aimed to clarify the current status and the future steps to be taken on them.
The Association for Emissions Control by Catalyst (AECC) in Europe comprises several leading companies. Since the introduction of advanced legislation, these industry players have made significant strides in reducing emissions on a global scale. Particularly, urban air quality has improved drastically over the years. In 2015, numerous cities in Europe still failed to meet the European air quality standards. By 2021, this situation had significantly improved, with only a few cities experiencing air quality issues. The integrated after-treatment systems introduced for Euro Six diesel and gasoline applications played a pivotal role in enhancing air quality, especially in urban areas.
The Euro 7 legislation, introduced by the European Commission in November 2022, marked the next step in the ongoing journey toward cleaner air. Mueller outlined the legislative process in Europe, where the Commission proposes new regulations, and the Council (comprising member states) and the Parliament must support these proposals. As of the conference, the process was advancing, with the Council and the Parliament publishing their general approaches and a trial process set to follow. This trial phase would involve the Commission, Parliament, and Council collaborating to find a compromise between their positions. It was expected to take place over the next few months, with an agreement targeted for March of the following year.
However, several factors added complexity to this process. Both India and Europe are facing upcoming elections, and decisions related to the Euro 7 legislation have to be made before these elections to prevent a significant delay. Mueller stressed the importance of a smooth trial phase to ensure timely decisions by European politicians.
In addition to the legislative process, the European Commission has already initiated work on implementing the necessary procedures.
Mueller delved into the specifics of the Commission’s proposal, highlighting changes in emission limits and driving conditions. Notable adjustments included the inclusion of ammonia particulates and an extension of the lifetime requirements for passenger cars. The primary challenges for the after-treatment industry revolved around cold starts, particulate emissions, and ammonia limits in heavy-duty vehicles.
Member states had varying opinions on the proposed legislation. Some were reluctant to accept any changes, particularly concerning passenger cars. The European Parliament’s proposal, which fell between the Commission and the Council, favored fuel-neutral emission limits.
The AECC’s commitment to supporting legislative bodies and advancing air quality initiatives was evident throughout Mueller’s address. The Euro 7 legislation, beyond its impact on Europe, holds significance for India and serves as a benchmark for China’s future regulations. The industry aims to demonstrate its ability to contribute to a cleaner, healthier environment through innovation and compliance with evolving standards. As the legislative process continues, stakeholders will work together to shape a greener, more sustainable future for the automotive industry and the planet.