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EU Proposes On-Road Testing For ‘Dirty’ Diesels From 2017 Photo:

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Trevor Collett | May, 27 2015 | 1 Comment

Life for carmakers selling diesel-powered vehicles in Europe is about to become tougher, if European Union rule-makers have their way.

Starting September 2017, a new ‘on-road’ testing regime has been proposed for vehicles with diesel engines, rather than the current laboratory test.

The test is designed to identify ‘real world’ emissions from diesel-powered vehicles, as the current lab tests have been criticised for understating the impact from diesels on air quality.

Diesels can cut CO2 emissions, thanks to their generally-better fuel consumption over petrol engines, but have been linked with an increase in NOx (nitrogen oxide) levels and smog containing ‘unburnt’ particles.

After decades of legislation guiding buyers into small diesel cars, France has now proposed a partial ban from 2020 on the industry segment it helped to create as air pollution in Paris grows evermore present.

And if drivers can’t use their diesels in Paris, they’re less likely to purchase them in other parts of France (or Europe) as well.

London has also been considering ways to tackle air pollution, and the city’s vast population of diesel-powered buses has previously been in the spotlight.

Air pollution - but how much of it came from diesel engines?
Air pollution - but how much of it came from diesel engines?

Euro 6 emissions laws state that the maximum NOx output per kilometre is 80 milligrams. These rules commence from September this year, replacing Euro 5 regulations which allow 180mg/km.

Environmental lobbyists, such as Europe’s ‘Transport And Environment’ group, argue that real-world testing will expose “dirty diesels” as emitting up to 33 percent more NOx than they do in lab testing.

If true, carmakers selling diesels in the EU face an uphill struggle to comply with the new testing procedure from September 2017, along with even stricter rules set to begin in 2021.

Business group Exane BNP Paribas has gone as far as to describe the new rules as “game over” for diesels.

But industry group ACEA (the European Automobile Manufacturers Association) said the proposed on-road testing rules are incomplete, leaving carmakers with no clue as to how to prepare for the changes.

In a statement, ACEA called for a ‘complete’ list of the proposed changes, and for the matter to be resolved between carmakers and the EU before the end of July this year.

Otherwise, the ACEA said it agrees that real-world testing would provide more accurate data to assess the impact of diesel engines on air quality.

If results from on-road testing prove vastly different from lab-based testing for diesels, petrol engines could soon be tested in the same way. The EU, however, is yet to mention future changes to testing rules for petrol engines.

MORE: China Province Caps New Vehicle Registrations To Tackle Pollution
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