AERIS Air Quality Report – Euro 7 impact assessment

The subject of Euro 7 is gathering interest and the emission limit scenarios and associated changes to testing procedures that were proposed by the European Commission’s consultants in October 2020 were seen to be hugely challenging to industry at large.

In many respects, those proposals threaten the future of new vehicles with internal combustion engines, especially passenger cars and lighter commercial vehicles. Heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) are a completely different matter but would be no less impacted by the proposals.

In order to put the Euro 7 pollutant emission Regulation into context and to add data to the Commission studies, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) tasked AERIS Europe to look at the impact that the roll-out of the latest new Euro 6/VI vehicles is having on air quality and air quality compliance rates, at EU, regional and city level. The study also explores the impact that a range of potential Euro 7/VII standards might have in the future. The key findings are summarised in this new AERIS Air Quality Report.

Well-known fleet models and derived emission factors were supplemented by carefully considered assumptions for the rate of electrification of cars, vans and HDVs (so as not to overplay the air quality benefit of electric vehicles). The impact of this base-case was modelled out to 2030 and 2035, showing that natural fleet replacement by the latest Euro 6/VI vehicles will already achieve a 67% reduction in road transport NOx emissions by 2030 (compared to 2020), rising to 79% reduction by 2035. The reductions in PM2.5 are less spectacular (because exhaust particle emissions have been falling for many years already) but still amount to a 21% reduction in PM2.5 by 2030 (compared to 2020), falling to a 17.3% reduction by 2035.

The study puts those baseline figures into context by comparing the additional benefit that a range of moderate to very stringent Euro 7/VI scenarios could achieve. For NOx, Euro 7/VII scenarios would deliver, by 2030, an additional reduction of only 3.4% (max) from cars and vans, and an additional 1.6% reduction (max) from HDVs. By 2035, those figures would increase by just an additional 1.2% and 0.8% respectively.

The study also modelled air quality concentration levels for more than 1,600 EU urban air quality monitoring stations. It showed that the compliance rates for the key air quality limit values for NO2, PM10 and PM2.5 will approach 100% by 2025, leaving a small number of city hot spots where local measures can be more effective than an EU Regulation. Ozone presents a different picture, but the effect of reducing road transport emissions beyond that achieved in the base-case does not improve the ozone compliance situation in urban areas. Looking at the background level of emissions during the first COVID lockdown periods, it is also clear that further reductions in emissions from road transport will not impact the background level coming from other sources of pollution.     

Bearing in mind the progress in road transport electrification that is already happening, this clearly suggests that the air quality benefit of a Euro 7 Regulation would be minimal (but hugely expensive if it followed what has been proposed by the Commission consultants). A more sensible approach, linking in with the post-COVID EU recovery programme, would be to accelerate fleet replacement with the latest Euro 6/VI vehicles via scrappage and incentive programmes that can be targeted to where there will be remaining air quality issues (ie in some cities) rather than the broad-brush and expensive approach of a new Euro 7 regulation.

This report published today is the main study report. It will be complemented by three further reports detailing the NO2, particles and ozone compliance picture, to be published next week. The data behind the complete study will all also be available at that time. In addition, a further cost-benefit analysis of Euro 7 scenarios, showing the monetised benefits of accelerated fleet scrappage schemes will be published in early April.

Please click here to find out how to join a webinar this afternoon (24 March) or on Monday 29 March to learn more about this study.


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