The quality of the air that we breathe in cities is one of the major concerns within the UN’s environmental goals. That is the reason behind the World Health Organization’s setting of new limits to ensure air quality, which will require dramatic reductions in nitrogen dioxide levels, NO2, and small pollutant particles.
Road transport will play a definitive role in this change due to being one of the most important sources of pollution. This is also a serious headache for the large European cities, which are the ones most affected by toxic air, resulting in tens of thousands of premature deaths every year, according to estimates.
Euro 7 standards
One important tool to fight pollution from road transport and save lives is the new Euro 7 standards. They will be released at the end of the year and will be applied from 2025 for passenger cars, vans, buses and heavy vehicles.
This standard is classified within the framework of the European Green Pact and would effectively bolster the existing Euro 6d and thus promote doing away with combustion, assuming a definitive step toward making cars with a combustion engine a thing of the past, which is expected by 2035.
While the design process is still being developed, these are some of the proposals found in its draft version.
- Nitrogen oxide emissions would be now 30 mg/km for all vehicles, whether petrol or diesel, compared to the current 60 mg/km (petrol) and 80 mg/km (diesel).
- New vehicle launches should be limited to 10 mg/km.
- Carbon monoxide (CO) emissions could also fall to 100-300 mg from the current standard 500-1000 mg.
- New cars would have a useful life of at least 15 years or 240,000 km of use.
- Finally, a global approach to pollution is expected, including certain pollutants that are not yet regulated such as ultrafine particles (PN10), ammonia (NH3) and nitrous oxides (N2O).
However, the car industry has not been slow to point out that some of these standards are impossible to meet and expects the European Union to yield to the requirements, believing that meeting them in just 4 years is just not viable.
It should not be forgotten that while the backdrop to this standard is to force manufacturers to invest in hybrids and electrical, another significant part must be completed, namely Europe forcing Member governments to build a network of ultra-fast electric car chargers in as short a time as possible.
While the measure may seem ambitious, they are necessary if change is to be brought about. Only 3.7% of new cars sold in Europe were entirely electric at the beginning of 2020. All others had conventional or electrified internal combustion engines (ICE). Even with the start-up of Euro 7, forecasts show that ICE engines will continue to be found in most light vehicles in the medium term, although their emissions will become even lower.
Road freight transport will also see a drastic overhaul of its fleet in the very near future. This is in line with the aid plan announced by the Spanish Ministry of Transport for the purchase of new gas-powered vehicles. While this includes other alternative energy options, choices in this market are still estimated to be very limited. However, LPG, CNG and LNG models are available, capable of generating 15% less emissions than their diesel equivalent.
MOVES plan for the promotion of electric mobility
The Spanish Government is also doing its bit with the call for MOVES Singulares II, which allocates funds to promote electric mobility and to promote innovative projects that contribute to the technological advances toward electric vehicles and fuel cells.
The programme has been granted 100 million euros of funding from the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan and is managed through the Energy Saving and Diversification Institute (IDAE).