ACEA calls for COVID emissions pause as China & coalition explore new options

European automaker body ACEA has called for the latest Euro-emissions standards to be delayed for six months due to COVID; a European coalition explores new energy source development and China looks to tighten post-COVID emissions regs.

In a letter to the European Commission, ACEA President and CEO of Fiat Chrysler, Mike Manley, has requested a six month postponement for application of the latest European emissions standards. In particular, Euro 6D TEMP and ESC-FCM, Euro VI Step E for trucks and a number of general safety regulations. The primary reason for the request is to avoid a build-up of vehicle stocks that will not meet the regulations and may remain unsold.

According to the ACEA: "In total, we estimate that 600,000 produced vehicles will not meet Euro 6d ISC‐FCM while nearly 40,000 vehicles will not meet Euro 6d TEMP. As sales had to be stopped to fight Covid‐19, it is not clear when these vehicles will be sold."

The letter continues: "In addition to the vehicles that were built already, manufacturers are gradually re‐starting production to maintain European jobs. The grim reality is that many manufacturers have not been able to have their vehicles certified for meeting the new emission standards due to the disruption in the type approval process caused by government restrictions."

According to the trade body, if the EC does not agree to the delay, automakers will either have to stockpile new vehicles until type approval is completed, or not restart/stop production altogether. Neither option is particularly palatable for the industry.

Elsewhere in Europe, a coalition which includes lubes producer Total and tyre maker Michelin, is setting out to accelerate the development of energy sources and technologies to meet the needs of sustainabile mobility in a post-COVID, bio-diverse world. Focusing on the transport and logistics sector, the coalition was revealed at the Rencontres Économiques d’Aix-en-Provence Forum and stated three overall aims by 2030:

  • To unlock a more extensive portfolio of clean energy sources
  • Lower per kilometer energy consumption of goods transported,
  • Eliminate a substantial proportion of transport and logistics-related emissions.

Amongst the solutions are development of "green hydrogen", biofuels and gasses; launching zero-emission vehicle projects by the end of 2021; optimising route and delivery planning and management; and consolidating measurement of the impact of the energy transition projects proposed. 

Meanwhile, despite the impact of COVID (or possibly because of it), China is pushing to improve its emissions and continue to clean air polution. According to the latest Kline report lubricants producers could play a significant role in these developments through enhanced formulations.  While China has driven the emissions agenda hard over recent years, the nation's emissions and limits are still significantly higher than recommended WHO levels.

Despite an apparent aim to become the world leader in EV battery and vehicle manufacturing, sales of EVs grew by just three percent in the country in 2019 which means, according to Kline, that further developments in ICE technology will be required.  The report states that China's passenger car and commercial vehicle lube markets are predominantly API SL/CH-4 or lower, meaning a significant increase in demand for higher-performance products is likely in the short to medium-term, even if overall volumes shrink. The industrial sector is also likely to follow a similar trend, in particular for turbine and compressor oils used in renewable energy technology.