EU ignoring clean fuels required by manufacturers?

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So will they be heard this time when dieselgate is thrown in their face with each claim? Nothing is less certain, but the Association of European Automobile Manufacturers (ACEA) does not budge: Europe is neglecting a path of strategic progress in these troubled times, because it has condemned with the stroke of a pen heat engine technology.

But it condemned it on the basis of past performance while the foreseeable progress of these engines is achievable without investing huge budgets. For this, there is a prerequisite, it would be necessary to change a regulation on the quality of fuels which dates… from 2009.

It suffices, to be convinced of the obsolescence of this regulation, to remember what electric cars were like thirteen years ago. They have evolved considerably and are beginning to reach a decent level of efficiency while the internal combustion engine car is stuck to this backward-looking regulation which does not allow significant technological developments. At the end of its tether, the ACEA has dotted the “i’s” by denouncing “a lack of ideas and foresight” on the part of the Commission, which is abandoning this directive on the quality of fuels (FQD).

More seriously, the standard which currently governs the quality of petrol and diesel leaves, according to the ACEA, too much tolerance in the mixtures of petroleum products across Europe. This does not prevent the engines from running, but exposes the manufacturers to discriminating variable results in real conditions of use (Real Driving Emission, WLTP standard) depending on the region and the product used.

However, we know that this certification measure is essential, but also possibly verified in the life of the model. “The FQD must be updated to reflect modern fuel production capacities and guarantee consistent quality across the European Union, in the interest of the consumer,” argues ACEA.

Cleaner than clean diesel

But there is even worse, this freezing of the directive prohibits any technological development which could lead, with a raised octane rate, to the design of much cleaner heat engines. And even totally with the synthetic fuels developed by certain manufacturers and soon entering production.

Porsche has already announced the construction of its production plant for a fuel that will first be used in competition and can then, very quickly, be used by road vehicles, in particular by keeping the famous “flat-six” in-house. Diesel oil is also concerned, if it were not restricted by the current standard, and that it is authorized to use renewable components such as HVO.

Better than biodiesel, this HVO fuel is made from sustainable vegetable oils, or from reprocessed waste (fats, animal oils, cooking oils, residual oils, etc.). Creating a chain of hydrocarbons, it is capable, according to TotalEnergies, which developed it, of replacing the current diesel fuel, without modifying the engine!

With the key to CO 2 emissions lowered by up to 65%, fine particles by up to 85% and NOx emissions which condemned diesel reduced to almost zero. And allowing to save all the current models instead of sending them to the scrapyard. Disadvantage, recently marketed in Belgium , the HVO was worth 2.86 euros last November.

But at the rate where the price of the barrel is jumping, this miracle synthetic fuel could soon be equivalent to that of diesel, or even less with the development of production. And in the current context of soaring prices, the European Commission would do well to revise its fuel regulations in depth.