A relaxation of the impending Euro 7 emissions regulations could see the lifecycle of the petrol-powered Skoda Fabia supermini extended well into the second half of the decade.
Several car company bosses have been vocal about how Euro 7 – due to be implemented in 2025 – threatens the viability of small, affordable combustion cars because making them compliant with strict new limits necessitates costly engineering work to fit electrically heated e-catalysts and new on-board diagnostic technology, which drives the cost of production up to impractical levels.
Indeed, Skoda boss Klaus Zellmer told Autocar earlier this year that "it will not be possible" to keep the Fabia on sale – at least at its current sub-£19,000 start price – if the plans went ahead.
Driving the list price past £20,000 to compensate for the increased cost of production, he suggested, would not be a "feasible proposal for customers".
But now, the European Commission is likely to water down the initial Euro 7 proposals following pushback from countries including Spain, Italy, France and the Czech Republic, who argued that they would impose significant costs on manufacturers for little environmental benefit, and divert investment away from the collective goal of all-out electrification.
Under the new proposals – yet to be ratified by the European Parliament and Commission – passenger cars would still be subject to the same limits imposed by the current Euro 6 standards, thereby substantially reducing the cost of compliance.
Zellmer, speaking to Autocar at the reveal of the new Skoda Kodiaq following the announcement of the less stringent Euro 7 proposals, hailed the potential move as "more realistic".
Asked if the combustion-engined Fabia could survive as a result, he said: "I wouldn't say they have saved it, but I think they have extended its potential lifecycle."
"It still has to be ratified in the legislative EU process, so we never celebrate too early," he added.