Brussels - On Wednesday, the European Parliament approved strict new emission laws (Euro V) for vehicles, but gave makers of SUVs a three-year reprieve. The new rules are likely to rubber-stamped by EU Member States in the next few days and will then pass into law.
The laws included the next stage of regulation - Euro VI - impose severe restrictions on NOx emissions from diesel engines. These are scheduled to come into force in 2014.
Euro V will come into force from 1 Sept, 2009, but in a surprise move, MEPs voted to allow a three-year transition period for "light commercial vehicles" weighing less than 3500 kg, which include vans intended for transport, small pick-up trucks and four-wheel drive vehicles, known as SUVs Sport-Utility Vehicles until September 2012. Vehicles designed for specific social needs, such as ambulances, vehicles designed to transport disabled persons or to fulfil public services, will also have three years to comply with the standards. For these vehicles the Euro V limits come into force from 2012.
Euro VI, due for implementation from 2014, is scheduled to bring emissions from diesel engines more into line with the restrictions on petrol engines. Diesels have historically been treated more leniently, due to the lower carbon emissions from the more efficient engines.
The introduction of Euro V standards will make it compulsory for all new diesel cars to be fitted with particle filters, from January 2011, in order to bring soot and particulate emissions down to the same levels as petrol vehicles - which currently emit five times less.
Euro V standards permit up to 250 mg/km for NOx emissions from diesels -4 times higher than for petrol cars. The Directive will actually allow diesel vehicles to maintain these emissions at levels 2.5 times higher than for petrol vehicles until 2014, when the Euro VI standards come into force and diesel NOx emissions will have to be reduced to 80mg/km - slightly higher than the 70mg/km that will be required for petrol cars.
European car makers criticised the new regulations. Ivan Hodac, secretary general of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), said, "The European car industry regrets that the new emission standards have not been based on proper and transparent impact assessments. Amongst other issues, this has lead to an underestimation of Euro 5 and 6 related costs by about 33%. The price of diesel cars will rise by up to 900 â‚¬. Furthermore, due to technical requirements and a predicted market shift from diesel to gasoline cars, ACEA expects a significant negative impact of 6 percent on CO2 emissions."
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EurActiv (Brussels) report