Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Commission welcomes Member States' agreement to further tighten car emissions testing in order to fight air pollution

Commission welcomes Member States' agreement to further tighten car emissions testing in order to fight air pollution
Published on: 20/12/2016
Today Member States meeting in the Technical Committee of Motor Vehicles have voted by a large majority on the third package of implementing measures on real driving emissions (RDE) tests for air pollutant emissions by cars.

Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market and Industry, said: "I am delighted by Member States' support today. The Commission's determination to make car emissions testing increasingly robust is paying off. Public health is at stake and car manufacturers should seize this as an opportunity to sell and export environment-friendly and internationally competitive cars. Carmakers should already start designing vehicles with lower particle emissions and introduce the necessary filters in petrol cars that are already widely used for diesel. We have no time to lose."

To continue tightening emissions from next vehicle generation, the RDE Act 3 will extend RDE testing to cover particle number (PN) emissions. Emission of particles used to be an issue linked only to diesel engines, clearly visible in the soot of diesel exhaust fumes. Emitted particles have however become smaller and smaller and ‘invisible' to the eye. Such small but still cancerous particles equally exist for common diesel cars as well as for petrol cars with direct injection technology. Although the Commission does not prescribe the technology to be used by car manufacturers to meet the limits, in practice, all petrol direct injection vehicles will have to introduce Gasoline Particle Filters (GPF) in order to reach the particle limits in real driving tests. GPF is a very effective means of limiting particles, very similar to the Diesel Particle Filters, which were already introduced on modern diesel vehicles. The new rules will start to apply for all new vehicle types by September 2017 and for all new vehicles by September 2018. This is in line with deadlines already foreseen in 2012 legislation agreed with the European Parliament and Council, allowing manufacturers to already start designing vehicles for full compliance with the emissions limit when measured in real driving conditions.

Under RDE Act 3, the Commission is also fine-tuning the testing methods to take into account that short city trips starting with a cold engine generate most city pollution. To cover a broader range of conditions, hot engine starts will now also be included.

The agreement also mandates that the real-world emission performance of a car should be clearly stated by the manufacturer in the certificate of conformity of each vehicle, i.e. that it is transparent and available for all citizens.

Next steps

The draft comitology regulation will now be translated into all official languages and sent to the European Parliament and the Council for regulatory scrutiny. They have 3 months to oppose the measures.

The Commission plans to include further provisions on checks for cars already in circulation as well as on strengthening the independence of testing in the RDE Act 4 proposal that should follow in 2017.

More information

On EU legislation on vehicle type approval and on emissions, see MEMO/16/4269