Vehicle emission targets will set the future course of the mobility transition

The Green Deal will continue to dominate the legislative agenda, as policymakers search for the majorities needed to turn last year’s proposals into law. The transition towards carbon-neutrality is well under way, and the ‘Fit for 55’ package published in July last year, will now set the course for how we get there, with the important regulation on CO2 emission standards at the centre. Whilst carbon and pollutant emissions require very different rules and policies, the upcoming proposal for Euro 7/VII pollutant emission standards, expected this April, is seen as closely linked.

The former is currently in co-decision with the Parliament and Council. The ENVI committee, which is in the lead for the file, recently tabled amendments on 25 January on the Commission’s proposal, which sets a 100% CO2 reduction target by 2035, leading to a de facto ban on the internal combustion engine (ICE). The issue of contention being if an electric vehicle (EV)-only approach is the best way forward, considering the existing obstacles of affordability, employment impacts, grid capacity, availability of renewable energy, critical minerals supply, just to name a few. The regulation is built on the objective of zero emissions at the tailpipe, leaving only electrification for future vehiclesMany argue that a more holistic approach, including the emissions from energy and fuel production (known as Well-to-Wheel) should also be considered to give a fuller emissions picture.  

CLEPA is engaging actively with policymakers in the European Parliament and Member State’s governments in the Council to promote the principle of technology openness and the integration of WtW emissions into the regulation in order to facilitate financing of the transition towards climate neutral mobility and to mitigate the impact on employment in the suppliers’ industry. But support for a phasing-out of the combustion engine technology is strong. Much will depend on the position of Germany and France, which have both signaled support for a more technology open approach ahead of their respective elections. With many negotiations ahead, we await the final vote in the ENVI committee in May, after which it will need to pass the plenary. It will fall to the French Council Presidency to push the file forward in the Council. 

The upcoming proposal for the Euro 7/VII regulation is expected to be adopted by the Commission in April and will also have a significant impact on future OEM portfolios depending on stringency and timing decided by the European Commission. The aim of the initiative is to verify that vehicles on EU roads are respecting the pollutant limits, including real-time emissions. The CLEPA emissions expert groups for light-duty and heavy-duty have been following closely the latest developments by DG GROW and are having technical exchanges with a variety of stakeholders that have contributed to the upcoming regulation, in preparation for all the possible scenarios that could be adopted in April once the proposal is released. CLEPA experts have developed a scenario, advocating for a regulation that finds an optimum balance for contributing to improved air quality, encouraging innovative technology and affordability, whilst seeking simplification wherever possible. 

Both files will have a lasting impact on the supplier industry and the automotive sector as a whole. The pace at which the transition happens, and whether or not we have a flexible regulatory framework that embraces ingenuity and incentivises advanced combustion technology and renewable fuels, in addition to e-mobility, will determine the future course for the livelihood of all Europeans, and our competitiveness in the global market. 


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