How Will the Euro 6 Emission Standards Affect You?

Exhaust Fumes coming from pipe
CC Licence – Ruben de Rijcke

As of next month (September 2015), the Euro 6 emission standards will come into effect, placing further restrictions on the amount of emissions emitted by new cars manufactured after that date. The legislation, which is the sixth incarnation of the criteria imposed by the EU, will focus on improving the environmental performance of diesel and petrol vehicles by limiting the amount of harmful chemicals they can legally emit.

In particular, the standards will target levels of carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxide (NOx), total hydrocarbons (THC), non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC) and particulate matter (PM2.5) that is released into the air during the use of new petrol and diesel engines. Such chemicals have been linked to serious medical ailments, such as respiratory diseases and strokes, and also do significant damage to the environment.

A Brief History of the EU Emission Standards

The European restrictions were first brought to bear on cars manufactured in member states back in 1992, with the introduction of Euro 1. Prior to this legislation, there was no restriction on the harmful output of diesel nor petrol cars, resulting in the production of many carbon-spouting vehicles. Euro 1 put in place a limit of 970mg/km for both diesel and petrol cars, which signalled the innovation of catalytic converters in cars manufactured after that date.

This was followed by Euro 2 in 1997, Euro 3 in 2000, Euro 4 in 2006, Euro 5 in 2009 and finally Euro 6, which comes into effect on September the 1st of this year. With each new progression of the standards, the amount of NOx, CO and PM2.5 allowed has steadily decreased, to the latest level of 80mg/km for diesel and 60mg/km for petrol (unchanged since the last standards).

Below is a detailed breakdown of how each incarnation of the legislation has affected both petrol and diesel engines, with the corresponding dates and amounts of CO, NOx and PM2.5.

Emissions Standards Date Petrol CO allowance Petrol NOx allowance Petrol PM allowance Diesel CO allowance Diesel NOx allowance Diesel PM allowance
Euro 1 1992 2.72 0.97 2.72 0.97 0.14
Euro 2 1996 2.2 0.7 1 0.5 0.08
Euro 3 2000 2.3 0.15 0.64 0.5 0.05
Euro 4 2006 1 0.08 0.5 0.25 0.025
Euro 5 2009 1 0.06 0.005 0.5 0.18 0.005
Euro 6 2015 1 0.06 0.005 0.5 0.08 0.005

As you can see, allowed levels of harmful pollutants have been slashed dramatically since the introduction of the laws over 20 years ago. In fact, some contaminants have been reduced by as much as 96%, indicating a huge change in the way cars are manufactured today.

Meeting these criteria is a massive challenge for manufacturing, particularly since the technology required to reduce NOx emissions sometimes directly opposes that which is needed to limit PM2.5, and vice versa. In any case, manufacturers will be forced to oblige if they wish to continue producing saleable cars.

What This Means For You

Since the levels of Euro 6 don’t differ too greatly from those imposed in Euro 5 when it comes to petrol cars, the new regulations won’t affect petrol car drivers a huge amount. Really, the new standards will only hold major implications for diesel owners or prospective owners – especially those currently in possession of older models.

While the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) are keen to stress that the newest diesel models will be almost as environmentally-friendly as their petrol counterparts, there still remain a great many older models on our streets which emit an alarming amount of pollution. Owners of these vehicles may wish to reconsider their use habits or consider upgrading to a more efficient car, especially since the government are keen to introduce measures of their own to make such vehicles increasingly unattractive propositions.

For example, areas of London such as Islington have already introduced a £96 surcharge on all older diesel-emitting vehicles, effective as of April this year. Meanwhile, the London mayor Boris Johnson has posited the idea of designating the entire city as an Ultra Low Emission Zone. This would involve an extra £10 fee for all diesel vehicles which enter the city, on top of the existing congestion charge.

Clearly, both the EU and the UK government are looking to clean up their act by introducing deterrents for diesel owners. However, for all prospective car owners looking to purchase a new vehicle, Euro 6 brings positive news. Not only will the latest compliant models have a reduced carbon footprint, thus making them a more attractive proposition for the environmentally-conscious driver, but they also have the potential to have improved fuel efficiency. As such, Euro 6 could save your bank balance as well as the ozone layer and all of our lungs.

This entry was posted in Vehicle News/Review on by Kevin Blackmore

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