We can expect a reduction of nearly 90% of the 600.000 tons of NOX emissions from European Heavy-Duty vehicles annually, once the majority of older vehicles are phased out in favor of Euro VI. And that is even though the population is expected to grow by 15% to over 8 million units in 2035.

This is one of the findings in this report from AERIS, which is also looking into some of the other remarkable effects of simply phasing in existing emission standards and Exhaust Aftertreatment Technologies.

What is so different about Euro VI?

Euro VI was an environmental game changer for the on-road transportation. Not only did the new requirements for particulate matter (PM) and quantity (PN) lead to the unavoidable adoption of Particulate Filters. It also introduced Off-Cycle and In-Service conformity testing, which took the type-approval process away from the labs, and into the real-world traffic.

Further, it also marked a significant reduction by over 75% of allowed emissions of Nitrogen Oxides – or NOX – which is a family of compounds that significantly contributes to smog-issues and acid rain, as well as the formation of Ozone.

So why is air pollution with NOX still a topic?

Even after 8 years there are still 4.5 million pre-Euro VI vehicles in service, accounting for over 95% of the sectors total NOX emissions. Heavy-Duty vehicles are work-horses that represent a significant investment for the operators, and obviously it takes time for a new technology, or legislation – or even alternative powertrain technology – to penetrate the majority of the vehicle fleet.

The important point is that technological solutions for significant improvements of air quality is already matured and for sales in the market. While it is up to political incentives and local legislation to define how fast the phasing-in of new technologies will progress, we are far from done improving our solutions and are well underway preparing for Euro 7 – with ultra-low NOX levels and cold-start operation in scope.

However, looking at the bigger picture reveals that Heavy-Duty vehicles accounts for only 10% of the total 6.000.000 tons of NOX emissions annually in Europe, while Energy Production and Industrial and Domestic Combustion accounts for over 50%. With the projected drop of 90% by simply phasing-in existing Euro VI technology, the heavy vehicles’ share is closing in on nearly insignificant levels.

So in the name of better air quality for all, let’s speed up the phasing-in of Euro VI – and turn the attention to non-transport related pollution sources.

Dinex' Green Fact of the Week is the title of a series of blog posts by Dinex Climate Ambassador Kristian Kaufmann. The purpose is to use facts and technical arguments to promote the most pragmatic and effective solutions to further reduce the transport industry's climate and environmental impact - for an even cleaner and greener future.