Currently reading: Controversy rages as new real-world emissions regs pass crucial vote
Concerns over accuracy of test equipment means legally mandated NOx limit can be exceeded by more than 100%

New real-world emissions test rules have been given the go-ahead by European Parliament despite stern opposition from critics who claim they are illegal.

The Real Driving Emissions (RDE) tests are designed to measure pollutants including NOx in real-world driving conditions, and will eventually replace laboratory tests by the close of 2017. The plans were negotiated long before the current VW emissions scandal, but have received greater attention since.

However, opponents say the RDE regulations may violate existing EU law and called for the terms of testing to be renegotiated. This is because car makers and officials agreed a deal last autumn whereby there is an approved degree of flexibility in the results, to take account of potential inaccuracies in the testing equipment.

As a result, although NOx emissions limits will be set at 80mg/km, figures of 168mg/km will be acceptable for Euro 6 engines until 2021 and 120mg/km thereafter.

A proposal to throw out the plans and renegotiate the test processes from scratch was backed by 317 Members of European Parliament (MEPs) and opposed by 323. A further 61 MEPs abstained - with a majority of 51 votes having been needed to block the bill.

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, which represents car makers, said: “Manufacturers welcome the much-needed clarity and are eager to move forward by implementing the new testing conditions as soon the regulation is adopted.”

Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder countered: “Today was a good day for dirty deals and a bad day for cleaner air but the close vote shows there remains strong opposition to the weakening of emission limits.”

The UK government is reportedly in favour of the RDE regulations.

While the vote does not formally ratify the new regulations, it did represent the last significant hurdle before they are passed. The European Environmental Agency estimates air pollution kills 400,000 people in the EU every year, with NOx emissions from cars a major contributor to this.


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skiwi 4 February 2016

Meanwhile, in the real world

the average coal station puts 13,000 tonnes of NOx into the air each year. And the UK & Germany lead the list in the EU with the worst offenders. Drax is the worst UK example with 20,000 annual tonnes NOx. That said Germany is quite a lot worse than the UK from this measure.

And in the good 'ol 'US of A, many coal stations, even in California (home of the restrictive car pollution standards) have federal exceptions for NOx and put upwards of 30,000 tonnes into the air annually. In California alone around 250 deaths annually are attributable to NOx from Coal.

winniethewoo 4 February 2016


The combustin motor isnt checked at the MOT because its considered a generator? Surely not? What's the point in having a hybrid if the combustion motor backing it up can belch anything it likes ?
Ksm78 4 February 2016

Not the real problem

The real problem in Europe varies from country to country. In France and Spain the pollution is from a large number of old diesel cars some over 20 years in daily use. In Italy it is the same but with the addition of old scooters and bikes. In the UK our problem is not with car's or van's or even lorries it is the bus that is the cause of more than half of the nox and particulate pollution in our cities. There's a couple of reasons for this one is that buses tend to have a lifespan of between 15 to 20 years meaning a lot of even euro 1 spec engines still in use every day. The second one is that the way a bus is used means that the catalyst and emissions control doesn't work properly on the new one's, the exhaust system has to be very hot for it to work and all the stop start and idilling means it never gets hot enough to work. On a hybrid bus it is even worse as the engine is cold from all the time it shuts down. This might even shock some but the engine in a hybrid bus is not even emissions checked at the mot as it is classified as a generator because it's not driving the bus the electric motor is. Funny thing Is that the same engine is used in the normal bus and does get checked. From a 20 year bus mechanic.