EU Regulators Urged to Drop Proposed ICE Bans

Pressure mounts on European regulators to abandon plans to ban ICE technology in new vehicles in the misguided assumption that a switch to BEVs would reduce CO2 emissions.

Hard on the heels of an industry study suggesting a rush towards BEVs would increase the continent’s green-house gas emissions by 2035, sustainable mobility lobbyists, the Association for Emissions Control by Catalyst (AECC), have written an open letter calling for a more balanced approach to reducing the automotive industry’s impact on the environment. It says a tighter Euro 7 emissions regulation and the increased use of sustainable, renewable fuels are needed to deliver on the European Union’s ‘Green Deal’ goals.

The letter suggests: “The next Euro 7/VII Regulation should legislate according to a total system approach using a whole vehicle basis. The rule should be technological and fuel neutral to ensure a vehicle’s emissions are compliant throughout its lifetime. To promote further innovation and to achieve ambition levels beyond the capabilities of today’s state-of-the-art technologies, AECC suggests a phased approach within one legislative package for Euro 7/VII.”

Naturally for a group promoting catalytic exhaust technology, it stresses that advanced engine emission management systems have a vital role to play in reducing climate damaging emissions. It continued: “Recently, we showed that today’s advanced emission control systems achieve near-zero emissions for NOx and particulates in real-world driving. These technologies are available for light- and heavy-duty vehicles and are therefore an important option among the solutions that will be required to successfully ensure a solid pathway towards zero-emission mobility in Europe by 2050.”

In line with the above-mentioned industry study by IAV, the association also calls for a greater use of sustainable carbon neutral fuels to be added to the fuel stock for advanced ICE powered vehicles. The letter concluded: “We believe that the use of fossil fuels should be reduced, rather than the use of the internal combustion engines. Measures for the uptake of renewable fuels within the Renewable Energy Directive and the CO2 targets for cars and vans should be adopted. A more holistic Well-to-Wheel approach is needed as soon as possible as a first step towards lifecycle analysis. Drop-in capabilities of these renewable fuels will guarantee immediate reduction in CO2 emissions from the existing fleet as well as from new vehicles. The existing fueling infrastructure can be used for the market supply of sustainable and renewable fuels.”

This approach could see the invigoration of hybrid diesel technologies that were promoted by Mitsubishi until the ‘clean air’ lobby put paid to diesel’s urban ambitions. However, a diesel hybrid able with a big enough electric only range to handle inner city work and a low CO2 ICE for long range rural travel could satisfy the requirements for both urban air quality and reducing green-house emissions. What is clear is that regulators must now reassess their sledge-hammer approach to climate change issues and start seeing ICE technology as playing a pivotal role in the battle against global warming while recognizing that BEV adoption is not the panacea that too many interested parties are promoting for short-term profit.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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