30 May 2007 | updated 2 July 2007

The European Council has adopted the “political” part of Euro 5 and Euro 6 emission regulations for light-duty vehicles. Euro 5 standards become effective from 2009.09 for new type approvals, and from 2011.01 for all models. Euro 6 standards become effective from 2014.09 for new types, and from 2015.09 for all models. (All of the above dates are one year later for Category N1 Class II and III vehicles and for “vehicles meeting special social needs”).

The adopted regulation follows the proposal published in 2005, as amended by the European Parliament. The highlights of the Euro 5 regulation are:

  • Diesel cars and light commercial vehicles
    • A PM mass emission limit of 5 mg/km (the Euro 4 limit for cars was 25 mg/km)
    • A 28% reduction in NOx emissions (for cars: 180 mg/km, down from 250 mg/km)
  • Gasoline cars
    • 25% reductions in emissions of NOx (a limit of 60 mg/km)
    • Introduction of a PM mass emission limit (equal to that for diesels) for lean burn direct injection gasoline cars.
  • Heavy passenger vehicles (such as SUVs)
    • Removal of an exemption that enabled heavy passenger vehicles (Class M1, over 2500 kg) to be type approved using emission standards for light commercial vehicles.

The Euro 6 standards further tighten the NOx standards for diesel cars and light commercial vehicles by about 55% relative to the Euro 5 limits. For diesel cars (Category M), the Euro 6 NOx limit is 80 mg/km.

The Euro 5/6 PM emission requirements for diesel cars are expected to be further strengthened by the “implementing regulation” (which will amend the “political” regulation), as follows:

  • A PM mass emission limit is to be changed to 3 mg/km using new PMP measurement method (this change accounts for different results using the existing and the new measurement method)
  • A particle number emission limit is to be added of 5 × 1011 km-1 (PMP method)

The Euro 5 PM emission standards require the use of particulate filters on all diesel cars (the use of filters on the current Euro 4 cars is mostly voluntary). The particulate filter requirement will be further strengthened through the stringent particle number limit, which requires highly efficient particulate filter systems.

The NOx emission standards, on the other hand, remain relaxed compared to the US regulations (the fleet average US EPA Tier 2 NOx limit is 0.07 g/mi = 44 mg/km), even at the Euro 6 stage (80 mg/km). This is caused by the need to control NOx “without foregoing the advantages of diesel engines in terms of fuel consumption” in the European Union. In contrast, until very recently, CO2 emissions had not been targeted by the US clean air authorities.

The Euro 5/6 legislation is being developed under a “split-level” regulatory approach which involves two regulations: (1) a political Euro 5/6 regulation and (2) a technical “implementing legislation” (also referred to as “comitology” regulation). The adopted legislation is the political part of the regulation. The deadline for the adoption of the implementing Euro 5/6 legislation (developed in a simplified process by the European Commission, without a plenary vote by the Parliament) is 2 July 2008. The most recent Euro 5/6 draft implementing legislation was issued concurrently with the political regulation.

As it was the case with earlier stages of EU emission standards, Member States have the right to introduce financial incentives for market introduction of clean vehicles ahead of the regulatory deadlines.

Source: European Council | Regulation 715/2007