It’s been about a decade that the Euro 6 (VI) standard has ruled the world of commercial vehicle emissions. The Euro 6 standard has evolved over time with Euro 6e introduced last year in 2022. Although there was much fear at the time about the performance of the trucks, their reliability and, above all, their cost, the standard has proven to be successful at just about every level.
A lot of the Euro 6 negative press prior to the launch was stemming from the truck manufacturers with complaints that the targets were too high and timelines too short.
No Time, Targets Too Strict
It seems that we have come full circle, as the EU rule makers are keen to bring in Euro 7 standards by 2025 – even though the targets for the standard were only released in February this year. This is at the same time as the truck manufacturers are investing in electric vehicles to meet the 2030 deadline for trucks under 26 tonnes and 2035 for heavy trucks.
So, inside the next two years, the manufacturers have to have researched, developed designed and put into series production a new standard. We all know that rushing these types of processes always leads to the best outcome.
A potential downside of Euro 7 is the losses of fuel efficiency and therefore increases in CO2 – at a time when the industry is targeted to reduce CO2 emissions by 15% for 2025 and 3% by 2030 (hence the focus on battery and hydrogen trucks to date).
To clarify the above, truck makers have to develop potentially higher CO2-emitting Euro 7 trucks despite having a target to reduce CO2 emissions.
Emission Regulation Timeline
- Co2 emissions down by 15% (from 2019)
- Diesel trucks must meet new Euro 7 standards
- Co2 emissions down by 45% (from 2019)
- Co2 emissions down by 65% (from 2019)
- No diesel trucks under 26 tonnes or buses to be sold
- No diesel trucks to be sold
- Co2 emissions down by 90% (from 2019)
How Old is the Average Truck?
Trucks are on average 14.2 years old in the European Union. With an average age of 22.7 years, Greece has the oldest truck fleet, while the newest ones can be found in Austria (6.6 years) and Denmark (7.5 years).
This means that the Euro 7 standard will, in all likelihood, impact a small percentage of the trucks. These are likely to be replacements for Euro 6 trucks – someone running a 20 year old truck is unlikely to suddenly invest in a brand new, Euro 7 truck so the savings will be minimal.
According to the European Automobile Manufacturer’s Association, (ACEA), “A CO2 reduction of 45% by 2030 means that more than 400,000 zero-emission trucks would have to be on the road, and at least 100,000 new zero-emissions trucks registered annually. This would require over 50,000 publicly-accessible chargers suitable for trucks to be in operation within just seven years, of which some 35,000 should be high-performance chargers (megawatt charging system). It would additionally require some 700 hydrogen refilling stations.”
How many of these stations already exist in the UK? None.
So, according to the targets, the focus has to be on alternative fuels, so why fiddle with the Euro standards in the meantime?
How Much will the Euro 7 Trucks Cost?
A study funded by ACEA suggests that the increase in manufacturing costs per truck will be in the region of EU12,000. So, a truck operator will be faced with a purchasing decision in 2025 whether to fork out an extra EU12,000+ on a new diesel truck or go the whole hog and invest in an electric one.
Until there are sufficient charging stations, most operators will not be able to go electric regardless of the financial incentive to do so. It is unlikely that we will see the hundreds or thousands of these suddenly springing up across the UK prior to 2025.
Impact on the Used Truck Market
Instead, will the operator hand onto the Euro 6 trucks for an extra couple of years, rather than buy a Euro 7? Yes. Will that help the environment? No. There will be no late second hand Euro 6 truck for sale, so the second hand truck buyer will have to hang on to their old truck and this will trickle down the market.
Should the focus be on replacing the very old trucks with Euro 6 standards? With current Euro 6 rules, the EU has the most stringent standards for pollutant emissions (such as NOx and particulate matter) in the world. Exhaust emissions are already at a barely measurable level. If 100% of the truck parc in the UK was Euro 6, emissions savings would vastly eclipse those offered by introducing Euro 7. Is this where rule makers should be focusing their attentions?
Our Thoughts for Legislators
- Improve availability of HVO for current fleet
- Incentivise scrapping oldest trucks
- Increase speed of investment in HGV charging infrastructure
- Rethink Euro 7 implementation for trucks
- Financially support purchase of electric trucks