August 16, 2022

Why the EU’s 2035 ban on petrol and diesel cars doesn’t matter

By b1z3d1t0r

There has been considerable reporting and discussion around the banning of petrol/diesel and hybrid cars from 2035 within the EU. Some of the points raised are valid and relate to the initial purchase cost of electric cars, as well as charging infrastructure, and these issues need to be addressed in order to achieve mass adoption.

Other points are designed to misinform and are frequently backed by large companies that directly benefit. These include arguments suggesting that electric vehicles are worse for the environment (they are not), or that battery production is more harmful than fossil fuel production (it is not).

That is not to say that their isn’t an environmental and societal cost. This is true of all transport products and services. The policy based EV argument is that it is the less damaging option and this is backed by a substantial body of evidence.

So why then does the ban not matter? It comes down to a lesser known, but arguably far more important, piece of EU legislation that has been in effect since 1992. In the early 1990s, the EU introduced a new emissions standard, commonly referred to as Euro 1. This move essentially banned leaded fuel and mandated the use of catalytic converters in all new petrol cars.

Since then, the standard has evolved: Euro 2 was introduced in 1996, Euro 3 in 2000, Euro 4 in 2005 and Euro 5 in 2008. Euro 5 saw the introduction of diesel particulate filters and severely tightened the standards for diesel use in general. This saw a considerable increase in cost to manufacture exhaust systems for diesel cars.

Our current standard, Euro 6, came into effect in 2020 further tightening NOX and particulate emissions limits. This forced manufacturers to adopt far more advanced exhaust systems. Diesel cars now had to employ even more complex filter systems using selective catalytic reduction, which also requires an AdBlue system.