Christmas comes early for SUV makers

The European Parliament has voted on new vehicle emissions standards (Euro 5 /6) in a compromise deal with ministers that allows makers of gas-guzzling sports utility vehicles (SUVs) an extra three years to comply.

Jos Dings, director of T&E, commented:
"The European Parliament has thrown away the opportunity to fix many of Europe's severe urban air quality problems using technologies that are already available. Instead, Europeans will have to wait until 2015 to buy a diesel car as clean as those already on sale in America."

"With growing awareness in Europe of the environmental and safety dangers of SUVs, the Parliament's decision to give these vehicles the same three-year exemptions as ambulances is a gift to SUV makers, and a kick in the teeth for the rest of society. But the growing anti urban-SUV movement could yet get the last laugh as cities across Europe are increasingly resorting to bans on SUVs and other heavily-polluting vehicles. Such measures are bound to increase as a direct result of this decision."

Notes to editors:

Euro 5 / 6 Emissions Standards

The so-called 'Euro standards' are emission standards intended to curb air pollution from road vehicles.

The Euro standards do NOT address fuel consumption / CO2 / climate change - a communication on that issue is expected from the European Commission in January 2007.

Today's package decided on Euro 5 and 6 standards for light duty vehicles, i.e. cars and vans up to a maximum laden weight of 3.5 tonnes.

Cars currently sold comply with 'Euro 4' standards. The first set of European emission standards 'Euro 1', was decided in 1991 and entered into force in 1993, and led to widespread introduction of three-way catalytic converters in petrol cars.

In terms of environmental and technological impact, the Euro 5 and 6 standards are most significant for diesel cars. They have to 'catch up ' as the air pollution impact of new petrol cars is currently lower than that of new diesel cars. Euro 6 will partly close that gap, but not completely.

The Euro 5 standards will cut permitted PM (particles) emissions from new diesel cars by 80%, which is very likely to force fleetwide application of diesel particle filters (DPFs).

The Euro 6 standards will cut permitted nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from diesel cars by roughly 50% compared with Euro 5, which might force application of NOx after treatment technology such as lean NOx traps (LNT) or Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR).

Euro 6 weaker than CURRENT American standards
The American state of California, along with ten other states (representing over 30% of US car sales) have a CURRENT NOx standard of approximately 40mg/km. This implies that Euro 6-compliant cars (on the market from 2015) would not qualify to be sold across the United States today.

According to the official Impact Assessment of the European Commission, the combined cost of the Euro 5 and 6 standards for diesel cars would be � 590 per car. Past impact assessments have as a rule overestimated compliance costs. For example, 3-way catalytic converters were estimated in the late 1980s to cost around �700, while their current cost is about 10 times lower.

A short overview of the major dates and values:

1: introduction of Euro 5: 1 Sept 2009 for new models certified, 16 months later (1 Jan 2011) for all new cars sold, ans also 1 year and 4 months later for vans (1 Jan 2011/12)

2: introduction of Euro 6: 5 years later: 1 Sept 2014 for new models certified, 1 Sept 2015 for all new cars sold. Vans up to 3.5 tonnes laden weight 1 year after that - 1 Sept 2015 / 1 Sept 2016

3: Pm standard (particles - harmful for human health): 5 mg/km for both petrol and diesel cars and vans, for both Euro 5 and 6.

4: NOx emissions standards:

- diesel cars: 180 mg/km for Euro 5, 80 mg/km for Euro 6;

- petrol cars: 60 mg/km for both Euro 5 and 6.

- standards are less strict for vans.

5: exemptions: a couple of 'vehicles to fulfil specific social needs' with a
weight over 2 tonnes during the Euro 5 stage need only comply with the -
less strict rules for vans. These are vehicles like ambulances etc., but
also SUVs (!). The exemptions for SUVs end on 1 Sept 2012.
All other exemptions end with introduction of Euro6, in 2014/15.

Press release of 12/12/2006

Parliament set to offer early Christmas present to SUV makers

The European Parliament will vote tomorrow on new vehicle emissions standards in a compromise deal with ministers that could allow makers of gas-guzzling sports utility vehicles (SUVs) an extra three years to comply.

Jos Dings, director of Transport & Environment, said: "The European Parliament, in its wisdom, has concluded that these unsafe, antisocial, heavily-polluting cars should be allowed to pump lethal emissions into the air for an extended period over and above other types of car. It looks as if Christmas has come early for the SUV makers. We urge MEPs to take a final reality check and ask themselves if they really want to promote vehicles that the British Medical Journal has said should carry a health warning on account of the dangers they present to pedestrians." (2)

The deal between the Parliament and ministers on Euro 5/6 emissions standards has taken the worst elements of the positions of both sides, according to T&E. Ministers had demanded weaker standards for emissions of Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) while the Parliament wanted a longer time frame for introduction (3).

Relatively strict emissions standards have been a competitive advantage for Europe's carmakers in the past as the home market for clean technologies gave a head start when other regions introduced stricter standards. But the new Euro 6 standard for diesel cars set for 2015 is weaker than existing standards in California and ten other American states (4).

Dings said: "We now have the unbelievable situation where an American consumer can buy a super-clean Mercedes diesel today in their local dealer, while a German will have to wait until 2015 to buy something even remotely similar. There is simply no excuse for allowing Europe to lose its leadership in this area."

(1) Euro 5 and 6 emission standards for new cars. Note: Euro standards do not apply to emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2).
(2) British Medical Journal, 7 October 2005
(3) Ministers had suggested 80 mg/km limit values for Euro 6 NOx emissions, to be introduced by 2013/14, while Parliament wanted 70 mg/km by September 2014/15. The compromise deal is now 80 mg/km by September 2014/15.
(4) The Californian standards, that also apply in New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington, are equivalent to 40 mg/km of NOx. The current Euro 4 standard for diesel cars is 250 mg, Euro 5 would tighten this to 180, and Euro 6 to 80 mg by 2015.

In Europe, new Euro 6-compliant cars will be sold until approximately 2020, and will still be on the road in 2035.

Contact the press team

Nico Muzi
Communications Director
+32 (0)484 27 87 91