Diesel discrimination is ‘unjustified’

The European Automobile Manufacturer’s Association (ACEA) has voiced its surprise and disappointment at yesterday’s announcement that Euro 6 diesel cars will not be included in Category 1 of the new French colour coding scheme.

For many years now, European vehicle manufacturers and their suppliers have led the world in the development of state-of-the-art diesel engine technology, including the implementation of high-efficiency diesel engines and diesel particulate filters that control particulate emissions (including ultra-fine particles) effectively down to zero levels at the exhaust tailpipe. EU regulation on exhaust particles has helped drive these improvements.

Since 1992, the EU has been introducing increasingly strict limits on vehicle emissions through a series of ‘Euro’ standards. The latest and most stringent is Euro 6. New car models are already compliant with Euro 6, and as of 1 September 2015, all new cars sold must meet this standard. These vehicles are the cleanest ever produced.

With a test known as Real Driving Emissions (RDE), Euro 6 will require real-world emissions testing of cars for the first time, and the automotive industry is actively supporting these developments. This means that cars’ performance will be measured not just in the laboratory, but also on the road.

‘Policy should be technology-neutral to ensure the uptake of the latest low-emission vehicles. There is no reason to discriminate against clean diesel technologies,’ stated ACEA secretary general, Erik Jonnaert. ‘This does not make sense from an environmental or health point of view, and could be detrimental to the mobility of cities and businesses.’

As diesel cars have lower CO2 emissions per kilometre than equivalent petrol-powered vehicles, they are an important means to enable manufacturers to reach the EU’s 2021 CO2 fleet average targets. They will also continue to be an essential contributor to meeting post-2021 targets. Customers favour diesel cars because authorities have increasingly incentivised the use of low-CO2 vehicles via the tax regime and the fuel is often cheaper due to lower national taxation.

Erik continued, ‘We share the desire to improve air quality – which will happen as newer, more advanced engines gradually replace older ones – but doing so at the expense of pushing up CO2 emissions is not the right way forward. With a policy framework in place that encourages the more rapid adoption of the latest low-emissions technologies, we can improve air quality and at the same time reduce CO2 emissions.’

This is also why the industry is calling for the support of the member states to ensure that the Commission completes very soon the RDE regulation in a sensible and balanced way. ‘Without the RDE regulation, industry has no legal means to demonstrate that Euro 6 diesel vehicles also have very low NOx emissions,’ explained Erik.