The Australian Government will soon reveal plans for strict new vehicle emissions standards – and they could be tighter than the Euro6 limit set to come into force in July 2017.
Moves for the new limits would follow the imminent signing of a national air quality agreement with the United States, says Australia’s Environment Minister Greg Hunt.
The deal could mean Australia would start testing tailpipes to make sure carmakers’ emissions claims were accurate, in much the same way as the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did to uncover the cheat device on Volkswagen diesels.
“We are about to release the terms for a new round of vehicle emissions standards to take Australia to Euro6 standards and potentially beyond,” Hunt told an audience in Melbourne at the launch of the Brighsun New Energy electric bus company.
“In December we are hoping we will achieve a national clean air agreement for the first time, and this will set standards in relation to, in particular, cleaning up our cities.
“In the vehicle sector is where we see we have two great goals: one is clean air and the other is reduced emissions,” he said.
Hunt said the federal government would examine the entire emissions testing procedure. “One of the things we have to look at is the quality of testing overseas, and questions as to whether or not there should be specific testing in Australia,” he said.
“In some ways we have been slow to adopt the best vehicle standards in Australia. In the coming weeks that will change,” he said.
What will the proposed new rules mean in New Zealand, which models many of its transport industry’s standards on those of Australia?
Average CO2 emissions for new passenger and light commercial vehicles in Australia was down to 188 grams of CO2 per kilometer, says the country’s National Transport Commission.
The CO2 average in New Zealand is similar, according to government figures. Average emissions of new cars in NZ and Australia have fallen since 2007 from upwards of 205gr/km, but progress lags far behind Europe.
The equivalent European average was 123gr/km in 2014. The country with the best average CO2 in 2014 was the Netherlands with 107gr/km.
The Euro6 standard came into force in Europe in September and sets different limits for new petrol and diesel cars. The CO2 fleet average of all new petrol cars is set at 130gr/km, tightening to 95gr/km from 2020.
The permitted level of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from diesels drops from a Euro5 maximum of 180 milligrams per kilometer to 80mg/km under Euro6. The limit for NOx for petrol cars remains at 60mg/km, the same as the Euro5 standard.
The US Tier2 standards are tougher again, requiring a fleet average NOx of 40mg/km for both petrol and diesel engines.