Background

Australian emission standards are based on European regulations for light-duty and heavy-duty (heavy goods) vehicles, with acceptance of selected US and Japanese standards. The long term policy is to fully harmonize Australian regulations with UN ECE standards. The development of emission standards for highway vehicles and engines is coordinated by the National Transport Commission (NTC) and the regulations—Australian Design Rules (ADR)—are administered by the Department of Infrastructure and Transport.

The emission standards apply to new vehicles including petrol (gasoline) and diesel cars, light omnibuses, heavy omnibuses, light goods vehicles, medium goods vehicles and heavy goods vehicles, as well as to forward control passenger vehicles and larger motor tricycles. They also cover off-road passenger vehicles (but not off-road engines, such as those used in construction or agricultural machinery).

The evolution of vehicle emission standards in Australia occurred through a number of regulatory actions. Some of the important steps can be summarized as follows:

  • Emission standards for petrol engined light vehicles commenced in the early 1970s.
  • A smoke emission requirement (ADR30/00) was introduced in 1976 for vehicles with 4 or more wheels powered by a diesel engine. The alternative smoke standards were US EPA ’74 or later or British standards “Performance of Diesel Engines for Road Vehicles” BS AU 141a:1971 or ECE R 24/00, 24/01, 24/02 or 24/03 “Diesel and Pollutants” or, in the case of an engine alone, ECE R 24/03.
  • The first emission standards (apart from smoke standards) for heavy diesel fueled vehicles became effective in 1995 for all new models and in 1996 for all existing models. These emission standards were introduced via ADR70/00 (adopting ECE R49, US & Japanese HDV standards). The requirements of the 1995/96 standards were:
    • Required: Euro 1 for both light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles. Euro 2 and 3 were also accepted though not included in the regulation.
    • Acceptable alternatives: US EPA ’91 or ’94 (EPA ’98 was also accepted though not included in the regulation); 1993 Japanese exhaust emission standards for “light duty and medium duty vehicles” and 1994 Japanese exhaust emission standards for “passenger cars and heavy duty vehicles”.
  • A second round of more stringent emission standards applied from 2002/2003 model year (for new/existing models). The standards—initially equivalent to Euro 2/3—have been gradually tightened to adopt Euro 4 for light-duty cars and trucks (diesel and petrol), and Euro 5 for heavy-duty diesel engines.
  • A third round of emission regulations, adopted in 2011, mandates Euro 5/6 emission standards for light-duty vehicles with an implementation schedule from 2013 to 2018.

Emission Standards: 2002/03 and Later

The emission standards were introduced via a series of new ADRs, which apply to vehicles depending on their gross vehicle mass (GVM):

  • For light-duty vehicles at or below 3.5 t GVM:
    • Euro 2/4 stage: ADR79/00, ADR79/01, and ADR79/02 (replacing ADR37/01)
    • Euro 5/6 stage: ADR79/03, ADR79/04, and ADR79/05
  • For heavy-duty vehicles above 3.5 t GVM: ADR80/00, ADR80/01, ADR80/02, and ADR80/03 (replacing ADR70/00)

The above ADRs apply to new vehicles fueled with petrol, diesel, as well as with LPG or natural gas. The requirements and the implementation schedules are summarized in Table 1 (the requirements and dates for heavy LPG and NG vehicles are the same as for diesel).

The two year date combinations shown in the table refer to the dates applicable to new model vehicles and all model vehicles, respectively. For example, in the case of 02/03, this means that from 1 January 2002 any new model first produced with a date of manufacture after 1 January 2002 must comply with the ADR, and from 1 January 2003 all new vehicles (regardless of the first production date for that particular model) must comply.

Table 1
Vehicle Emission Standards: 2002/03 and Later
ADR CategoriesECE CatADR02/03
Diesel
03/04
Petrol
05/06
Petrol
06/07
Diesel
07/08
Diesel
08/10a
Petrol
10/11
Petrol
10/11
Diesel
13/16b
All
17/18c
All
DescrGVM†Cat
Passenger Vehicles
 ≤ 3.5tMA, MB, MCM1ADR 79/..Euro 2Euro 2Euro 3Euro 4 Euro 4  Euro 5dEuro 6
> 3.5t ADR 80/..Euro 3US96US98 Euro 4 Euro 4   
Buses
Light≤ 3.5tMDM2ADR 79/..Euro 2Euro 2Euro 3Euro 4 Euro 4  Euro 5dEuro 6
3.5 ≤ 5t ADR 80/..Euro 3US96US98 Euro 4 or US04, JE05 Euro 4 or US08Euro 5 or US07, JE05  
Heavy> 5t ME M3ADR 80/..Euro 3 or US98eUS96US98 Euro 4 or US04, JE05 Euro 4 or US08Euro 5 or US07, JE05  
Goods Vehicles (Trucks)
Light ≤ 3.5t NAN1ADR 79/..Euro 2Euro 2Euro 3Euro 4 Euro 4  Euro 5dEuro 6
Medium3.5 ≤ 12tNBN2ADR 80/..Euro 3 or US98eUS96US98 Euro 4 or US04, JE05 Euro 4 or US08Euro 5 or US07, JE05  
Heavy > 12t NCN3ADR 80/..Euro 3 or US98eUS96US98 Euro 4 or US04, JE05 Euro 4 or US08Euro 5 or US07, JE05  
† Gross vehicle mass
‡ Vehicle categories: MA - passenger cars; MB - forward control vehicles, MC - passenger off-road vehicles
a - 1 July 2008/1 July 2010 for new/existing models
b - 1 November 2013/1 November 2016 for new/existing models
c - 1 July 2017/1 July 2018 for new/existing models
d - ‘Core’ Euro 5 applicable to new models from 1 November 2013, full Euro 5 applicable from 1 November 2016 (see notes below)
e - US EPA model year 2000 or later certificate or equivalent testing required (to ensure that no emission “defeat devices” are used)

Notes to Table 1

  1. The introduction of Euro 2 standards for light-duty petrol and light-duty diesel vehicles is via ADR79/00, which adopts the technical requirements of ECE R83/04.
  2. The introduction of Euro 3 standards for light-duty petrol vehicles, and Euro 4 standards for light-duty diesel vehicles, is via ADR79/01, which adopts the technical requirements of ECE Regulation 83/05. R83/05 embodies the Euro 3 and Euro 4 requirements for light-duty petrol and diesel vehicles, however the ADR only mandates the Euro 3 (pre 2005) provisions of R83/05 for petrol vehicles, but allows petrol vehicles optional compliance with Euro 4 standards.
  3. The introduction of Euro 4 standards for light-duty petrol vehicles is via ADR79/02, which adopts the technical requirements of ECE R83/05.
  4. The introduction of Euro 3 and Euro 4 standards for medium- and heavy-duty diesel vehicles is via ADR80/00 and ADR80/01, respectively, which adopt the technical requirements of European Directive 99/96/EC amending Directive 88/77/EEC. ADR80/01 has been replaced by ADR80/02 effective 2007/8.
  5. The introduction of Euro 4 and Euro 5 standards for medium- and heavy-duty diesel vehicles is via ADR80/02 and ADR80/03, respectively, which adopt the technical requirements of Directive 2005/55/EC as amended by 2005/78/EC and 2006/51/EC.
  6. The ‘core’ Euro 5 (ADR79/03) adopts the technical requirements of ECE R83/06, except that it does not require the new, PMP-based testing methods for PM mass (allowing the old test method with the 0.005 g/km PM limit to be used as an alternative) and has no PN limit. Some other requirements are also relaxed, including the OBD threshold. ADR79/04 applies the full requirements of ECE R83/06 from 1 November 2016.

Other Provisions

Smoke Limits

A smoke emissions ADR30/01 also applies to all categories of diesel vehicles. The smoke standard, which applies from 2002/3, adopts UN ECE R24/03 and allows the US 94 smoke standards as an alternative. This new ADR replaces ADR30/00.

OBD

ADR79/03-05 introduce European OBD requirements for light-duty vehicles. At the ‘core’ Euro 5 stage (ADR79/03) a relaxed OBD threshold limit for PM mass of 80 mg/km is accepted for M and N category vehicles of reference mass above 1760 kg.

ADR80/02 requires heavy-duty vehicles to have OBD systems meeting the Euro 4 (or Japanese) requirements to warn against “functional failures” (such as an empty urea tank in engines with SCR). ADR80/03 requires vehicles to have OBD systems meeting the Euro 5 requirements to directly monitor emission levels against set OBD thresholds.

Diesel Fuel

The new emission requirements were synchronized with new diesel fuel specifications of reduced sulfur content, as follows:

  • 500 ppm sulfur effective 31 December 2002
  • 50 ppm sulfur effective 1 January 2006
  • 10 ppm sulfur effective 1 January 2009

Information for this article contributed in part by Jon Real, Department of Infrastructure and Transport.