European Emissions Rules: Foot-Dragging and Hair-Pulling

Representatives of Mahle Powertrain and Horiba say the European Commission's lack of clarity on emission standards has engineers wasting time and money trying to predict final rules.

Paul Myles, European Editor

October 12, 2023

3 Min Read
Euro Emissions 16
Tougher EU emissions standards may not take effect until 2027.

Automakers and powertrain suppliers are in limbo without clarity from the European Commission over planned tightened emissions standards.

Euro 7, which regulators hoped to impose on the industry by 2025, now looks unlikely to come into force before 2027. In a panel discussion during Automotive News’ Future Mobility Europe 2023 forum, representatives of Mahle Powertrain and Horiba criticized the lack of clear direction from regulators that has resulted in engineers facing needless costs and time wasted on predicting what the final regulations may look like.

Simon Williams, RDE (real driving emissions) operations leader at Mahle Powertrain, says: “We don’t see the new standards being applied until between quarter one 2027 and quarter three given the amount of work that needs to happen…That’s including all the technical regulations that sit behind other pieces of regulation that have already been proposed by the commission.”

Steve Whelan, global applications center lead, emissions, at Horiba’s facility based at the U.K. automotive testing ground MIRA, stresses the current regulations are in no way a “done deal,” adding that the lack of clarity is costing automakers and suppliers R&D investment that may not be needed in the short term.

Steve Whelan Horiba MIRA.jpeg

Steve Whelan Horiba MIRA

When asked if the regulations are being softened versus what the industry was expecting, Williams says: “Well, one of the biggest risks included in the Euro 7 requirement was around the on-board monitoring proposal from the European Council where the vehicles had to self-record their emissions, and this was an incredible step-change from where we are at the moment with on-board diagnostic requirements.”

“This is a huge risk, in my view, because how are manufacturers going to achieve this and guarantee it's available in all driving conditions, in different cycles and in different temperature requirements, use cases and the aging of the vehicles? How can their on-board monitoring be accurate for the entire life of the vehicle?” adds Whelan (pictured, above left).

Whelan offers an example from his own company’s work: “We’ve already launched instruments that will measure PM10 (particulate matter with diameter less than 10 µm) and that will measure ammonia which had been included in Euro 7. And now if there’s not interest from regulators in PM10, then that nice instrument is not wanted anymore. For us, that’s not an easy thing to swallow and the same would be true for work that the OEMs are doing.”

Whelan points to another issue missing from the commission’s latest regulations: cold-start and warm-up of engines. He says trying to meet those requirements would require expensive and fussy after-treatment systems, which may need to be electrically heated.

If that’s not on the table anymore, says Whelan, all the work done around solving that problem has now gone and there’s probably a whole plethora of advanced engineering programs that are halfway through. If you’re an OEM who’s spent a lot of time and effort getting on with this, Whelan adds, “I can see a lot of them pulling their hair out at the moment.”

About the Author(s)

Paul Myles

European Editor, Informa Group

Paul Myles is an award-winning journalist based in Europe covering all aspects of the automotive industry. He has a wealth of experience in the field working at specialist, national and international levels.

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