Volvo Bus has once again warned that the proposed introduction of Euro 7 emissions regulations by the European Commission last year is halting the progress of zero-emission coaches and buses.
The comments came from Josef Gisslow, Volvo Bus Retail Sales Director (pictured, right), and Phil Fletcher, Sales Development Manager (left), at the UKCOA Annual Conference on 13 March.
The proposed introduction of such legislation in Europe is July 2027. If the UK chooses to adopt the same legislation, derogation could see the new requirements enforced in the UK by 2028. Volvo Bus has estimated the mandatory end of sale date for diesel coach could be as early as 2035, giving only a 7-year window in which Euro 7 vehicles would be produced.
Citing challenges already hindering progress in the move towards zero-emissions for coach, including range, capacity, versatility, government support, infrastructure, and legislation, Mr Gisslow highlighted that the uncertainty of Euro 7 legislation as it stands means manufacturers “have to work as if it’s coming” and must commit heavy investment in money, time and resources, putting the brakes on electric vehicle progress.
Echoing Mr Gisslow’s concerns over Euro 7, Mr Fletcher noted that the benefits of Euro 7 versus Euro VI in terms of the environment are “quite small”. He suggests therefore that the industry should lobby the government to continue with current Euro VI legislation until a zero-emission alternative is available.
“We’ve gone through this journey in the environmental development, it’s been ups and downs and it’s been quite a long journey so far and we have no intentions on stopping,” says Mr Gisslow. “We are fully focused on going full force and continuing this journey. But Euro 7 introduction for us as a vehicle manufacturer means a lot of heavy investment, not just in money but in time and resources, and that in turn sets the pace at which we can go full battery electric, or fuel cell, or whatever the future will bring.
“It is no secret that the main manufacturers – ourselves included – are working on full electric platforms, we are working on fuel cell platforms, we have a joint venture with arguably one of our biggest competitors with Daimler (Cellcentric) on fuel cell. That’s publicly communicated frequently and we’re investing a lot. But what’s really setting the pace and determining what we can do and when we can do it, is the legislation side.”
Mr Gisslow further highlighted the need for the government to provide support and infrastructure to enable the development and adoption of zero-emission coaches and buses. “It takes planning, it takes initiative from government and industry players like ourselves, to really move forward,” he says. “And that’s the main point right now – we need answers to a lot of these questions before we can really set a full plan to bring forward a full range of products that will do the job.”
He also emphasised the importance of working together as manufacturers and operators to address the challenges facing the industry. He noted that Volvo Group CEO Martin Lundstedt is actively lobbying on the issue and that the company is part of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), a group of automotive manufacturers working together to push for progress towards zero emissions.