How does the Euro 6 affect you?
For years car makers created vehicles performing bigger and better performances with no regards for their CO2 emissions. However, in the past years several governments and legislative bodies across the world set emissions reduction initiatives. So who sets standards for car manufacturers to meet nowadays?
Euro 6 is the 6th incarnation of the European Union directive to reduce harmful vehicle exhausts: nitrogen oxide (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (THC and NMHC) and particulate matter (PM). European emission standards first came into force in 1992, with Euro 1 standards becoming law. This initial standard ensured that diesel cars emitted no more than 780mg/km of nitrogen oxide, while the maximum for petrol engines was 490mg/km. This moved on to Euro 2 in 1997 that dropped diesel NOx to 730mg/km and Euro 3 standards followed in 2000 lowering the diesel NOx limit to 500mg/km. By 2006, Euro 4 emissions were in place reducing the maximum NOx in diesels to 250mg/km and Euro 5 reduced it further to 180mg/km in 2009.
"the future of diesel cars looks a little more uncertain (...)"
The latest Euro 6 sets new emissions requirements for petrol and diesel cars. For diesels, the permitted level of NOx emitted has dramatically dropped to a maximum of 80mg/km, compared to the 180mg/km level that was required for cars that met the previous Euro 5 emissions standard. In contrast, the NOx limit for petrol cars remained unchanged from Euro 5, as it was already low at 60mg/km.
In the UK, every new model that is sold has to undergo the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) procedure before it can be sold in showrooms. This test measures emissions of each engine and gearbox combination a new car is sold with under laboratory conditions on a rolling road. However, as Volkswagen proved, car makers can still bypass these regulations without doctoring a test model. To overcome this, new testing procedure is currently being developed for 2017-2018 and will be the new industry standard in 2019.
For now, in the short term, the new Euro 6 emission standards are unlikley to have a direct impact on drivers, although they could see further improvements in the fuel economy and emissions of new cars. However, the future of diesel cars looks a little more uncertain, as environmental groups and governments are increasingly penalising diesel cars' owners.
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