Car makers trying to hold back ‘feasible’ improvements to emissions standards

The Commission has closed its consultation on the next round of emission limits for passenger cars, known as Euro-5, with T&E clashing with the European car makers’ association Acea.

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T&E has said the standards proposed in a Commission consultation document are “in many respects disappointingly weak”, and that stricter emissions limits for particles, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons are “technically, economically and politically feasible.”

In a position paper published last month, T&E calls for:

• a 90% (not 80%) reduction in particle emissions from diesel cars (to 2mg/km, not 5 as the Commission is proposing)

• a 70% (not 20%) reduction of NOx emissions from diesel cars (to 75mg/km, not 200)

• a 75% (not 25%) reduction of NOx and HC emissions from petrol cars

It also calls for other changes to the administration of vehicle emissions compliance, and welcomes the Commission’s proposal to close a loophole under which sport utility vehicles (SUVs) can escape certain emissions requirements.

In its submission, Acea says the Commission’s proposals are “unnecessary” and would harm the car industry’s competitiveness. It says:

• bringing NOx emissions from petrol cars down to 50mg/km would be “unnecessary” since the vehicles affected are already “clean and efficient”

• cutting HC emissions to 75mg/km would be “an unnecessary and unjustified extra burden on industry”

• meeting the proposed 200mg/km NOx level for diesel cars would be possible but “a significant task” and that existing technology cannot bring levels below 200.

Acea also criticises the proposed removal of the SUV loophole, saying cars seating seven or more people should be exempt because they offer “an environmentally attractive alternative to using two ‘normal’ passenger cars.”

T&E has pointed out that industry cost estimates for the introduction of previous Euro standards have always been “grotesque” exaggerations.

T&E policy officer Aat Peterse said: “Stricter limits make sense as many EU countries will otherwise struggle to meet EU air quality targets. But they would also boost innovation in the emissions reduction technology industry.”

The Commission is expected to make firm proposals for Euro-5 standards by the end of the year, and they would come into effect 18-36 months after completing their passage through the legislative process.

• A majority of German urban districts are planning controls on diesel vehicles that do not have particle filters. Newspaper reports say Berlin is planning a complete ban, Frankfurt plans a low-pollution zone starting in 2008, and Stuttgart wants to ban diesels more than 15 years old.

This news story is taken from the October 2005 edition of T&E Bulletin.