Cars and commercial vehicles sold in Europe are subject to strict limits on the emission of tailpipe pollutants and from other sources on the vehicle, eg evaporative emissions from the fuelling system.
Nominally referred to as ‘Euro’ standards, these were introduced in 1991 with ‘Euro 0′ (symbolised with Arabic numberals) for passenger cars and in 1992 with ‘Euro I’ (symbolised with Roman numerals) for commercial vehicles (emission standards did exist before Euro 0, but this was taken as the starting point for Euro standard references).
Innovation has helped meet progressively tighter emission standards as the legislation has developed. Technologies such as variable valve timing, direct fuel injection and improved and highly sophisticated engine management systems have all played a major role.
So too have exhaust after-treatment systems, where the engine and the exhaust after-treatment are designed as a system (not forgetting the need for consistent and high quality fuels in all EU markets – even beyond the EU borders for commercial traffic). All new diesel cars and all new trucks are now fitted with particulate filters to meet tough new Euro 6/VI standards. Many commercial vehicles also use Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) in combination with a urea-based additive (trademark AdBlue®) to help reduce NOx emissions. SCR technology is appearing on larger diesel cars for Euro 6, but other NOx-reducing technologies such as lean NOx catalysts will also be adopted by vehicle manufacturers.
Industry will continue to innovate and invest. It was fully involved in discussions on Euro 6 and VI rules for cars and commercial vehicles respectively. Europe should make the most of the solutions brought to market by EURO 6/VI by encouraging fleet renewal. This would not only greatly and more quickly improve air quality, but would also help stimulate the economy.