The Euro standards set the emissions limit for new cars in the EU and European Economic Area. These standards are different for various vehicle types, so a car or train will have different standards. Importantly, vehicles that exceed the limits cannot be sold in the EU and EEA, Poland included. So how have emission standards evolved over the years?
History of the Euro standard
The first emission standard was introduced in 1993. Since then, the average emissions have changed significantly due to the development of combustion engines. Therefore, one of the European Union tasks is to adjust the level of harmful substances in exhaust gases to current values. Subsequent limits set the directions for manufacturers and impose new requirements. For instance, from 2017, every model must be tested for actual values on the road, not just in laboratory conditions.
The Euro standards were not the first of the kind. Before them, in the 1980s, the first regulation named R49 was introduced, which addressed carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide. However, it is the Euro standards that have had an enormous impact on the further development of motoring and the adaptation of engines to new conditions, including climate change.
It was introduced in 1992 for passenger cars and light goods vehicles. The values were considerably higher than today, but already then, manufacturers opted for exhaust catalysers. Since then, the standards for combustion gases and particulates have been raised significantly. In the case of nitrogen oxides, the difference is as much as 98%; for hydrocarbons 95%, carbon monoxide had to be reduced by 89% and particulates by 97%. That is impressive.
This standard was in force since 1997. It applied to passenger cars and two-and three-wheelers with internal combustion engines.
These were the limits from 2001. In that case, not only cars and trucks had to comply with the standards, but all vehicles with combustion engines. That standard first distinguished different types of motors. Diesel motors can emit more nitrogen oxides, but the standards for carbon monoxide are stricter.
It entered into force in 2006. It applied to all vehicles, including two- and three-wheelers, but if, for example, an automobile was petrol-powered, it was exempted from the particulates emission limits.
This standard was introduced in January 2011. It covered light passenger cars, utility vehicles, two- and three-wheelers. After its introduction, manufacturers began equipping cars with particulates filters, significantly reducing emissions during driving.
It has been in force since 2014. Passenger cars and commercial vehicles must meet their limits, which are being updated.
The modification from September 2019. It tightened the limits even stronger.
First introduced provisionally, then the EU enacted the current version. The provisional Euro 6D stipulates how emissions tests are to be carried out.
So far, the European Commission has not announced when it is going to introduce further limits. However, there are many indications that lowering emissions may be truly problematic or impossible without the extensive introduction of electric cars, while minor differences will not make a real change.
How do I check a car’s Euro emissions standard?
Technically, there must be information about the standards in the vehicle card or registration certificate. However, if you want to know whether your car meets the limits set by the European Commission, it is worth going for a diagnostic test. It is particularly vital if you are importing a vehicle from abroad. The test is referred to as NEDC and precisely measures emissions. At the same time, it is worth noting that prices can be high.
Testing emissions at the service station
The introduction of mandatory testing at service stations during inspections has been announced for some years now. It is primarily supposed to prevent the removal of particulate filters from and deactivation of EGR valves in vehicles. Although these procedures are illegal and harmful, they remain utterly unpunished as diagnostic stations seldom check emissions. However, it can be done using an opacimeter. Yet, that is not a test that can reliably check all the values, as it is more of an optical test than a quantitative and qualitative assessment.
The absence of the particulate filter can be seen, but only if there are clear signs of interference, for a standard pipe inserted in this area. At this point, the central unit can be programmed not to show the absence of the filter. However, the Dieselgate affair of a few years ago demonstrates the need for advanced diagnostic testing during inspections. Therefore, such an amendment should be expected in the not too distant future. Of course, it will require considerable financial outlays from the state budget, but such costs are worth bearing for the environment’s sake.