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What Do Euro 6 Emissions Standards Mean?

By raccars Published

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From September, all new cars sold in the UK must meet Euro 6 emissions standards, designed to reduce air pollution in the EU. The standards set maximum limits upon the amounts of harmful pollutants released by vehicles powered by combustion engines.

The emissions standards set by Euro 6 cover a number of harmful pollutants, including nitrogen oxide (NOx), hydrocarbons (THC and NMHC), carbon monoxide (CO) and particulate matter (PM) - otherwise known as soot. Reducing emissions should not only result in cleaner air but also improved fuel economy.

Euro 6 regulations have been brought into effect not only to protect the environment but also because some of these pollutants, particularly NOx and particulate matter, have been linked to serious health problems.

Different standards have been set for petrol and diesel vehicles. While the previous Euro 5 standard allowed Nox levels of 180mg/km for diesel cars, Euro 6 has Nox emissions to a maximum of 80mg/km for diesels. For petrol cars, the maximum Nox emissions remain unchanged from Euro 5 standards, at 60mg/km.

The danger is seen to be from older diesel cars, which have been the target of environmental groups and London mayor, Boris Johnson. Modern diesel vehicles, however, are far cleaner and less polluting than older models, while diesel car CO2 output tends to be lower than petrol. Manufacturers and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) are currently running a campaign in defence of diesel, claiming that anti-diesel rhetoric risks derailing the progress of Euro 6, if consumers do not understand that new diesels are practically as clean as petrol cars.

The introduction of Euro 6 regulations is unlikely to have any impact upon motorists in the short term, but over time is expected to see better average fuel economy and emissions, as manufacturers standardise the application of modern engine technology.

Standards for emissions in the EU came into effect in 1992 with Euro 1. This set maximum emissions limits of 780mg/km of Nox for diesels and 490mg/km for petrol cars. In 1997, Euro 2 levels dropped to 730mg/km for diesel, followed by a Nox limit of 500m/km in 2000 for Euro 3. 2006 saw the introduction of Euro 4, reducing maximum Nox emissions to 250mg/km for diesel cars, brought down even further to 180mg/km, with Euro 5, in 2009. The maximum Nox level for petrol cars has also seen dramatic cuts with each new standard, but has always been much lower than for diesel cars.

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