An Even Cleaner Act

Up until this point in time most emission regulations have been focused on what comes from the exhaust pipe, however it is very likely that future regulations will address the overall environmental impact of road vehicles over their entire life cycle.

The heavy-duty Euro standards are numbered using Roman numerals (e.g. Euro I, II, V), whereas light-duty standards (both petrol and diesel-fuelled passenger vehicles) use Arabic numbers (e.g. Euro 1, 2, 5). Emissions testing is performed on engines in laboratory situations rather than on complete vehicles. Euro I standards were introduced in 1992, followed by the introduction of Euro II standards in 1996. The European Union adopted Euro III standards in 2000, followed by Euro IV in 2005 and Euro V standards in 2008. In Germany, road toll discounts were introduced in 2005 for vehicles meeting the latest standards which encouraged the early launch of Euro V trucks. Euro VI emission standards are comparable to the US 2010 standards and became effective from 2013/2014. The Euro VI standards also introduced particle number (PN) emission limits and stricter On Board Diagnostic (OBD) requirements. A Euro VI(e) revision is expected in 2022-23 followed by Euro VI(f) in 2025.

At present Euro VII is expected to become the standard in 2028 and this possibly will be the final emissions legislation for conventional internal combustion engines. Euro VI will have a wide-ranging scope aimed, particularly, at improving air quality for urban areas and paves the way towards zero CO2 emissions.

Back in 2001, the European Commission passed legislation which prohibits the use of emission “defeat devices” and “irrational” emission control strategies which reduce the efficiency of emission control systems when vehicles operate under normal driving conditions rather than on a test bench. Investigations by authorities including the US Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) eventually lead to the uncovering of the well-documented ‘dieselgate’ scandal. Within Euro VII legislation, OBM (On-Board Monitoring) emission requirements will be introduced in conjunction with extended OBD (On-Board Diagnostics) to better manage the emissions over the realistic effective lifetime of the vehicle and to bring to attention any tampering such as removal of diesel particulate filters (DPFs). OBM will still require OBD to identify if a component or system has failed and to suggest possible rectifications.

This will be a quantum step beyond a flashing red engine light on the dash when an AdBlue injector nozzle becomes blocked or a DPF requires a ‘burn’.

The challenge for manufacturers is to develop solutions focused on improving emissions over the full range of operating conditions that a vehicle will experience. Most engineers are of the opinion that low CO2, low PM and low NOx are conflicting aims in technical terms for diesel engines. Technical advances including EHCs (Electrically Heated Catalysts) are expected to be effective in support of meeting the anticipated Euro VII emission targets for both gasoline and diesel applications.

Euro VII may in part be designed to address the establishment of Ultra Low Emission Zones in cities such as Paris, Athens, and Madrid which have adopted their own stricter standards on emissions due to their particular regional pollution challenges and there is a distinct possibility that the details within the regulation may ultimately require some level of geo-fencing.

In addition to accepted health pollutants, greenhouse warming pollutants including methane and nitrous oxide gases will be addressed under Euro VII and it’s quite probable that physical pollutants, such as brake and tyre dust particles, will also be regulated.

In the early 2000s, Australia began harmonising its Australian Design Rule certification for new motor vehicle emissions with the ‘Euro’ categories and Euro V was introduced here in 2010-11 as a factor of ADR 80/03 legislation. Currently the US EPA 2007 and Japan JE05 Long Term are accepted as alternative standards to Euro V. More detail will be required as the newer standards are developed in order to compare the European, Japanese and United States requirements and determine if they are parallel standards.

Interestingly, there is still no indication from the Australian government as to when Euro VI will be mandated here, despite the entreaties of various OEMs supported by the Truck Industry Council. To avoid differentiation and to take advantage of economies of scale in manufacturing, an increasing number of OEMs are making Euro VI compliant vehicles available here, almost by default.

The electrical architecture of a commercial vehicle needs to be totally changed to accommodate Euro VI and this brings with it the bonus of the abilities to incorporate the latest in safety systems such as Autonomous Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control and pedestrian detection. The local logic is to push the case for the enhanced safety with the improvements in emission levels being considered a bonus.

Though yet to be compulsory, the current availability of some Euro VI vehicles in Australia has led to some of the major fleets opting for the later standard in line with some of their clients’ wishes to capitalise on the positive marketing potential of being ‘seen as green’. If this is the case then it is incongruous that our grocery giants are more in tune with environmental opportunities than our government.

If we don’t yet have a start date for Euro VI, then Euro VII is a long way off for Australia.

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