Published on8 July 2020.
For more than thirty years, the Euro standards that have been in place have made it possible to drastically reduce the polluting emissions of new vehicles, both diesel and petrol. Thanks to various technological innovations, emissions of nitrogen dioxide, fine particles and carbon monoxide have been significantly reduced. What are the Euro standards, and who are they for?
What are the origins of the Euro standards?
The first Euro standard was introduced by the European Union as early as 1988 . This standard was originally developed for heavy-duty vehicles before being extended to light-duty vehicles. This standard was introduced to limit pollutant emissions. by imposing emission limits on new vehicles. Since its creation, this Euro standard has evolved in order to reduce polluting emissions more and more. As a result, more and more constraints have been imposed on manufacturers. The European Union requires cleaner vehicles from them.
On the heavy-duty vehicle side, new vehicles must now comply with the Euro VI standard, while on the light-duty vehicle side, manufacturers are subject to the Euro 6d-TEMP standard.
What are the different Euro standards?
The Euro standards put in place are not the same for heavy and light vehicles.
Euro standards for heavy vehicles
The Euro standard has evolved considerably since its introduction in 1988 for heavy vehicles. To date, it has undergone six changes, bringing the number of existing standards to seven:
- Euro 0 (1 October 1990)
- Euro I (1 October 1993)
- Euro II (1 October 1996)
- Euro III (1 October 2001)
- Euro IV (1 October 2006)
- Euro V (1 October 2009)
- Euro VI (31 December 2013)
Euro standards for light vehicles
As regards light vehicles, Euro standards only appeared in 1993 and have evolved since then:
- Euro 1 (1 January 1993)
- Euro 2 (effective 1 July 1996)
- Euro 3 (1 January 2001)
- Euro 4 (1 January 2006)
- Euro 5 (1 January 2011)
- Euro 6b (1 September 2015)
- Euro 6c (1 September 2018)
- Euro 6d-TEMP (1 September 2019)
- Euro 6d (implementation from 1 January 2021)
Which pollutants are covered by the Euro standards?
There are 4 pollutants regulated by the Euro standard that are gases harmful to health: nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC) and fine particles.
Each new Euro standard is accompanied by stricter requirements with regard to pollutant emissions. One of the consequences of this has been the generalisation of particle filters, leading to a very clear reduction in emissions.particulate emissions from diesel vehicles; or the generalization of the SCR system with AdBlue® to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.
How are the vehicles tested?
A new protocol for the approval of light vehicles was introduced in Europe in September 2017, the WLTP. This new certification standard WLTP ( Worldwide harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure) is the successor to the NEDC (New European Driving Cycle)which has been in force since 1992. In particular, the WLTP protocol should ensure a better match between pollutant emissions during certification tests and those in real use. This certification cycle proposes :
- An increase in the average speed compared to the old homologation tests carried out with the NEDC protocol.
- Shorter stopping times to simulate urban routes.
- A measurement of nitrogen dioxides and fine particles under real driving conditions. This is the RDE test for Real Driving Emissions, carried out in real traffic using a Portable Emission Measurement System (PEMS) onboard the vehicle.
- Following these tests, new vehicles obtain type-approval if they meet the criteria imposed by the Euro standard in force, currently Euro 6d-TEMP.
What technologies can be used to reduce pollutant emissions?
The successive appearance of the Euro standards has forced manufacturers to find solutions to offer engines that consume less fuel and pollute less.
The appearance of catalytic converters
As early as the 1990s, catalytic converters were used to reduce emissions of carbon monoxide (CO), unburned hydrocarbons (HC), and nitrogen oxide (NOx) from petrol vehicles. For diesel vehicles, catalytic converters have reduced emissions of CO and HC, but not NOx, due to the combustion mode of diesel engines.
An essential component of the anti-pollution system of modern engines, the particulate filter (FAP) is designed to capture the particles emitted during combustion in internal combustion engines thanks to its honeycomb structure to limit exhaust emissions. The PAF became systematic on new diesel vehicles in 2011 with the introduction of the Euro 5 standard. In 2018, with the Euro 6.c standard, the FAP will be generalised on new petrol vehicles. This device has therefore made it possible to drastically reduce the emissions of fine particles into the air.
Nitrogen oxides after-treatment systems
Light-duty diesel vehicles released from 1 January 2015, subject to the Euro 6b standard, are fitted with one of the following two systems to reduce NOx:
- SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) ensures the reduction of NOx by a reaction with ammonia on board in the form of urea, this is AdBlue®
- A NOx trap combining a NOx capture system with a three-way catalyst capable of treating NOx, HC and CO
Since the introduction of the Euro 6d-Temp standard, all new light-duty diesel vehicles are equipped with an SCR system using AdBlue®.
This technological development makes it possible to reduce almost all NOx emissions.
Did you know that ? AdBlue® is an aqueous solution composed of demineralised water (67.5%) and pure urea (32.5%).
How are drivers affected by the Euro standards?
Drivers are affected by the imposition of Euro standards. Depending on the standard of their vehicle and the local regulations in force, drivers may be restricted in their movements in the event of pollution peaks. The Crit’air sticker to be affixed to your vehicle also depends on the Euro standard of your vehicle.
Note that you too can limit your environmental impact by driving. Behaviour and driving style can play a role in fuel consumption and pollutant emissions. Drivers are therefore advised to :
- Drive smoothly: drive smoothly, with the right engine rpm
- To maintain their vehicle regularly