Trucks still breaking EU legal emission limits

Some of the newest trucks in Europe are still breaking EU legal emission limits, according to testing undertaken by the Technical University of Graz on behalf of Transport & Environment. 

The study found that emissions when driving in towns or cities were particularly high, with nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions at least double the legal limits.

Testing of an IVECO diesel long-haul truck found serious failures to comply with the current, lax ‘Euro VI’ emissions limits.

In official tests, the truck exceeded the on-road NOx emission limit by 11% overall.

In one of the city driving tests the NOx emission control system – hardware in the exhaust – malfunctioned, resulting in NOx emissions which were 11 times higher than the current legal limit.

Anna Krajinska, Emissions Engineer at T&E, said: ‘These results are a damning indictment of an emission standard that allows trucks to drive the air pollution crisis.

‘To combat asthma, heart disease and cancer, all pollution from diesel trucks needs to be urgently reduced. Alongside a clear strategy for achieving 100% Zero-emission sales for most trucks by 2035, we need an ambitious new EU emission standard for heavy-duty vehicles to be implemented by 2025 to replace the outdated Euro VI standard agreed more than a decade ago.’

trailer truck passing on road near rail guard

According to T&E, an ambitious new emission standard for all vehicles could cut total EU NOx emissions by 4.2 million tonnes by 2050 and avoid 35,000 premature deaths.

T&E is therefore calling for the implementation of four key recommendations:

  • Reduce emission limits to the lowest levels technically possible;
  • Regulate all pollutants which are harmful to human health and the environment and can be effectively regulated at the tailpipe;
  • Improve testing, approval and certification of vehicles to make sure buses and trucks meet emission limits whenever and wherever they are driven;
  • Ensure that emission limits are met throughout the lifetime of the vehicle.

The European Commission is expected to publish a proposal for a new Euro VII emission standard for heavy-duty vehicles by the end of 2021. 

Anna Krajinska added: ‘A new EU emission standard is urgently needed to reduce pollution from trucks and buses. Yet, intense opposition from an automotive industry that puts profit before people, could succeed in getting the European Commission to propose a weak standard which would do little to cut emissions. This would be a disaster for clean air and human health.’

Photo by Seb Creativo


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Alain Collet
Alain Collet
2 years ago


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