The impact of Euro IV legislation

Tim Cheyne, Director of the Environment and Emissions Team at Integer Research Ltd

Transport is a major contributor to environmental pollution - in terms of pollution accidents and noise. The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP), was set up to advise the Government on environmental pollution.

It produced two reports on reducing transport's impact on the environment and targets to drive the process. The first report, Transport and the Environment (RCEP Report No 18), reviewed the environmental effects of transport systems and proposed eight objectives for a sustainable transport policy:

To ensure that an effective transport policy at all levels of Government is integrated with land use policy, and that it gives priority to minimising the need for transport, and increasing the proportions of trips made by environmentally less damaging modes.

  • To achieve standards of air quality that will prevent damage to human health and the environment.
  • To improve the quality of life, particularly in towns and cities, by reducing the dominance of cars and lorries and
    providing alternative means of access.
  • To increase the proportions of personal travel and freight transport by environmentally less damaging modes, and to make the best use of existing transport infrastructure.
  • To halt any loss of land to transport infrastructure in areas of conservation, cultural, scenic or amenity value unless the use of the land for that purpose has been shown to be the best practicable environmental option.
  • To reduce carbon dioxide emissions from transport.
  • To substantially reduce the demands which transport infrastructure and the vehicle industry place on non-renewable materials.
  • To substantially reduce noise nuisance from transport.

The report also recommended quantified targets as the basis for a transport policy. This first report was published back in 1994. The second report was published in 1997, entitled Transport and the Environment - Developments since 1994 (RCEP Report No 20).

It found few signs of changes in previous trends and emphasised the need for concerted action in order to make transport more sustainable.

Euro standards

The introduction of a series of stringent European standards, commonly known as Euro standards, are having a significant effect on vehicle emissions.

The Euro standards are set by the European Commission in Brussels. As a convention Euro III, IV, V and so on refer to legislation affecting passenger cars and light duty commercial vehicles. Heavy-duty vehicles are covered by Euro IV, V and VI.

The arrival of new European commercial vehicle legislation, aimed to decrease the emissions of harmful pollutants from trucks and buses, is bringing about significant changes within the commercial vehicles and transportation industry.

The new Euro IV directive, which became effective in October 2005 for new models and one year later for all new vehicle registrations, stipulates a 30 per cent reduction in harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) and an 80 per cent reduction in particulate matter (PM) emissions.

Euro V regulations will demand a further reduction in NOx emissions and will be implemented in 2008 and 2009 for new type approvals and all registrations respectively.

In compliance to these regulatory demands, truck manufacturers have developed new emissions technologies.

The most widely used of these is the Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system - with all the major vehicle manufacturers using this technology in at least one heavy-duty model at the time of writing.

SCR works by injecting a urea-based liquid, AdBlue, directly into the exhaust system, converting the emissions into nitrogen and water, which then flow harmlessly out of the exhaust. The AdBlue is stored in a small dedicated tank that truck drivers have to regularly fill up at service stations or home depots, as they would do for diesel. For the convenience of the SCR drivers, some of the AdBlue filling stations allow them to refill diesel and AdBlue tanks simultaneously.

Most AdBlue tanks have enough capacity for 3,000 to 4,000 kilometres of driving. This allows for the drivers to refill with AdBlue at every second diesel filling stop. In response to this new demand for AdBlue, a Europe-wide supply infrastructure is being developed in order to ensure its availability to SCR technology users. Almost all of Europe's urea manufacturers are producing AdBlue, and partnerships are in place between several suppliers, distributors and retailers to ensure that AdBlue has made its appearance in service stations across the continent over the last year.

Many OEMs have contracted AdBlue suppliers to set up filling points at their truck dealerships and service points. And with their customers in mind, OEMs are ensuring that the new truck owners are easily supplied with AdBlue as they drive away. Oil companies too are looking at investing in this product, expanding AdBlue availability at public service stations over the next few years. The variety of storage and delivery options that AdBlue distributors are offering to retailers has enabled these oil companies in particular to vary their sales strategy, depending on their view of this developing market.

France's Total, for example, already suppliesAdBlue from the pump at a total of 75 sites in Europe, with 27 of these located in France and 22 in Germany. OMV has invested aggressively in AdBlue pump infrastructure and already has 35 sites with AdBlue pumps in operation. Shell has seven sites with pumps, and 201 forecourts stocking AdBlue in canister form. The average retail price of AdBlue ranges from 0.52 to 0.85 Euros per litre at the pump.

However, due to increased competition and improved infrastructure, some in the industry believe that the price of AdBlue will drop to 0.45 to 0.50 Euros per litre in the longer term. The general view amongst the truck manufacturers is that the price of AdBlue will settle around about half the price of diesel, as it does not carry the fuel taxes that diesel incurs in Europe (other than VAT).
Truck fleet owners may be concerned over additional costs when it comes to AdBlue engine models, but these added costs are expected to be offset by the improved fuel efficiency in SCR engines.

Manufacturers claim that SCR can potentially improve fuel consumption by up to five per cent when compared to the alternative technology. SCR is designed to last the life span of the vehicle, and is a maintenance-free system (other than regular AdBlue top-ups) with low operating costs. To further encourage early Euro IV and V compliance, there is an allowance within European directives for member states to introduce tax and road charge incentives. An active example is the LKW-Maut (autobahn tax) saving in Germany. Under the Maut highway toll scheme, there is a discount of 0.02 Euros per kilometre for Euro V vehicles (including those with an SCR) system, which can translate to thousands of Euros of savings over a year for an operation driving long distances in Germany. Various other European governments, like Austria and Switzerland, are also planning to adopt similar techniques. The OEMs and AdBlue suppliers have played a large part in encouraging the early adoption of Euro IV and V compliant engines. Together with UK-based Integer Research, they initiated the launch of the website.
This enables fleet operators and drivers to freely locate any AdBlue filling site and supply point in Europe. For more information about the Euro IV legislation, please visit: or