Zero emissions due to Euro 6 standard – CCFA proposes differentiating
Just a few days ago Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, announced that diesel vehicles would be completely banned from the French capital by the year 2020 for reasons of air quality control. The French automotive association CCFA (Le Comité des Constructeurs Français d’Automobiles) has now correctly pointed out in a current press release that diesels should not all be lumped together. While modern diesels (Euro 6) are clean machines whose particulate emissions are close to zero, the emissions from significantly older diesel cars are indeed high. For this reason, old diesel cars have been categorised in pollutant class 2 in Germany for a long time. They have to display a red environmental sticker and in many towns they are not allowed to enter the environmental zones. The CCFA proposes that the air quality control measures in Paris should also concentrate on older diesel vehicles (without particulate filters). The German Association of the Automotive Industry VDA welcomes this proposal.
“The data for Germany clearly show that the amount of particulate matter in the air in this country has fallen by 40 per cent since 1995. That can be traced back above all to the success in decreasing output from road traffic,” emphasised VDA Managing Director Dr Ulrich Eichhorn.
The next few years will see further reductions in engine emissions of particulate matter from vehicles on German roads. Both the particle mass and the number of particles will come down. Diesel vehicles complying with the new Euro 6 exhaust standard achieve de facto zero emissions in real-life operation. And particulate emissions from petrol engines are already at this level.
“The focus is therefore shifting to other emitters. For example, a study commissioned by the Federal Environment Agency (FEA) found that in the year 2020 total engine emissions in German road traffic will be even less than those from cigarette smoke in Germany. The emissions from summer barbecues will then be far higher than all passenger car engine emissions taken together. Those who wish to bring down total particulate emissions must therefore pay most attention to the other emitters,” Eichhorn underlined.
The air quality limit value defined by the EU for particulate matter was “very ambitious,” he added. Whereas the annual mean exposure is generally below the maximum set – 40 micrograms per cubic metre of air, the daily means of 50 micrograms per cubic metre of air are exceeded more often than permitted. “And the first half of 2014 showed that exceedances of the limit value were generally due to meteorological effects. The limit value is exceeded over wide areas in the winter, but hardly ever in the summer. Therefore road traffic cannot be the cause of winter exceedances,” the VDA managing director said. The great majority of the particulates measured in urban areas come from the surrounding region, and part comes from other countries. It is called “regional background”.
Another 20 per cent of particulate matter is generated by urban areas, including domestic heating systems. According to FEA calculations, the popular wood-burning stoves alone push up the average PM10 values by 4 to 5 micrograms per cubic metre. This is more than the contribution from road traffic.
About one quarter of particulate matter is created at hotspots, which are generally measuring points close to main roads. Although road traffic is concentrated at these points, even here the proportion from engine emissions is low: At one hotspot in Stuttgart, for instance, these emissions account for only 4 per cent of the total; and on Berlin’s Frankfurter Allee the figure is 7.2 per cent. With more and more cars meeting the Euro 5 and Euro 6 standards on the roads, the share will drop even further.
Eichhorn said, “Soot filters and Euro 6 have turned passenger car exhaust into an irrelevant source of particulate matter. Since the strict Euro 6 standard naturally applies throughout the EU, we can assume that particulate emissions from road traffic will continue to fall in France, too, as higher numbers of modern diesel passenger cars come onto the roads replacing older models.”
To add to this, France is a diesel country. The proportion of diesel cars among new registrations is currently 64.3 per cent (from January to October 2014) and thus much higher than in Germany (47.6 per cent). In 2010, 70.8 per cent of newly registered passenger cars in France were diesel-powered. The domestic manufacturers’ share of all new car registrations in France is a good 55 per cent. And two out of three cars that are newly registered in France and bear a French badge have a diesel engine.