On 10 November 2022, the European Commission published its much-anticipated proposal for the new Euro 7 emissions standards. For the first time, limits on non-exhaust emissions and rules on battery degradation are included in the regulation of electric vehicles (EVs). Manufacturers will have a close eye on how the proposal develops over the coming months as it falls to be considered by the European Parliament and Council.
Emission limits for tyres and brakes
The most significant aspect of the proposal, insofar as EVs are concerned, is the inclusion of limits on particles emitted by tyres and brakes. This is the first time anywhere in the world that non-exhaust emissions have been regulated in this way. The Commission considered it necessary to legislate for such emissions following an Impact Assessment, which concluded that, by 2050, non-exhaust emissions will constitute up to 90% of all particles emitted by road transport.
As currently drafted, the proposal places an obligation on manufacturers to design, construct and assemble vehicles to comply with certain emission limits: for brake particle emissions (“particles emitted from the brake system of a vehicle”) the proposal sets that limit at 7 mg/km until 2035 and 3 mg/km thereafter. Brake particle emissions will be tested in accordance with a new UN General Technical Regulation with any modifications that the Commission lays down in future implementing legislation. The proposal for the new UN General Technical Regulation on brake emissions from light duty vehicles is due to be considered by the UN/ECE Working Party on 10 – 13 January 2023. Under the current draft, the brake emissions test would be conducted using a new “WLTP-Brake Cycle”. The bespoke cycle consists of ten individual trips, each of which represent different driving and braking conditions. A particulate sampling and measurement system will measure particle mass (PM2.5 and PM10) and particle number during this section of the test.
By contrast, the Commission’s proposal to limit the mass of material emitted from tyres due to abrasion is less developed. This is significant for EVs given that, in comparison to traditional combustion engine vehicles, EVs tend to be heavier (due to the additional weight of the battery) and so, all else being equal, have greater levels of tyre abrasion. No emission limits are currently proposed, but the Commission plans to prepare a report on tyre abrasion by the end of 2024 to review the measurement methods and state-of-the-art testing technology in order to propose limits. Possibilities for the measurement of tyre abrasion include test devices with hermetically sealed wheel arches, which are being used in development, but it remains to be seen what methodology the Commission will adopt in future implementing legislation.
Another important aspect of the proposal is the inclusion of rules on the longevity of batteries. In the Commission’s view, these new rules are important to increase consumer trust that EVs will retain performance after several years of use and to encourage a strong second-hand market for EVs. Under the proposal, the storage capacity of the battery of a passenger vehicle must retain 80% of its original value after five years or 100,000 km (whichever comes first) and 70% after eight years or 160,000 km (again, whichever comes first). It is proposed that battery storage capacity will be ascertained by a so-called “state of health monitor” in the vehicle. To bring the legislation up to date, the Commission also proposes that manufacturers be obliged to take cybersecurity measures in relation to the transmission of data on battery durability (and emissions).
Above and beyond Euro 7
Under the current proposals, EV manufacturers can showcase the heightened environmental credentials of their new EVs. For instance, a manufacturer may designate an EV as “Euro 7+” by declaring battery durability that is at least 10% better than the legislative minimum. For plugin hybrids, the vehicle must, in addition, have gaseous pollutant emissions that are 20% lower than the limits and particle emissions that are one order of magnitude below the limits. Similarly, a manufacturer can designate a hybrid vehicle as “Euro 7G” (or, if relevant, “Euro 7+G”) if that vehicle is equipped with so-called geofencing technology. Geofencing technologies are those that do not allow a hybrid vehicle to run with the use of a combustion engine when driven inside a specific geographic area (e.g. certain urban areas).
The new regulation is proposed to come into force on 1 July 2025 for light duty vehicles and on 1 July 2027 for heavy duty vehicles. These dates are earlier than many in the industry were expecting. This combined with the absence of the draft implementing legislation (which the Commission will publish in due course) or final version of the UN Technical Regulation on brake emissions, and the possibility of revisions from the European Parliament and Council, mean that manufacturers will not have long to adapt to the content of new rules and test their vehicles accordingly. The Commission presented the proposal to the European Council’s working party on technical harmonisation on 21 November 2022 whereas, in the European Parliament, the file is still in its preparatory phase and will be led by the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (with the rapporteur to be appointed soon).