Euro 6 & NOx Emissions: Are Euro 6 Cars Clean?

Are Euro 6 cars clean?

Recent DVSA tests reveal that some Euro 6 vehicles which technically meet the legislated laboratory tests produced up to 20 times the NOx emissions limit during a track test.

Tests carried out by the DVSA on a range of popular Euro 6 vehicles identified low and high emitters. These were in line with the results of similar tests conducted for Allow Independent Road-testing (AIR) and published in the AIR Index.

Which Euro 6 Cars are emitting more than legislative NOx limits?

The DVSA’s tests show that during a range of track tests, all but one car were found to be over the limit.

Most of all the Nissan Qashqai diesel was found to be more than 17 times the legislative limit for NOx and the Renault Kadjar diesel was 13 times the same limit.

Diesel versions of models within the following ranges were also found to be multiple times higher than emissions limits:

  • BMW 1-series
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Jaguar F-Pace
  • Vauxhall Astra

The only car tested by DVSA and found to be within the limits for all of the track tests was the Mercedes E-class diesel.     

How to more accurately reflect emissions: AIR Index

The AIR Index rates vehicles tested in urban conditions which provides comparable NOx emissions levels that more accurately reflect the contribution to urban air quality than lab-based tests.

It has been created to inform and empower car buyers and city policy makers with the real facts about vehicle emissions when making choices about car purchase and usage.

A simple A-E colour-coded rating, shows the difference between clean and dirty vehicles based on how much NOx comes out of a car’s tailpipe in urban driving.

AIR Index vs Euro 6 for NOx emissions

Tests have already found that the Euro 6 rating includes cars with a wide range of NOx emission levels. AIR Index, however, is designed to give a more accurate picture of real world NOx emissions when driving on-road.

Nissan Qashqai

The diesel Nissan Qashqai (Euro 6) tested by the DVSA has a provisional AIR Index ‘E’ rating, indicating extreme levels of NOx emissions (>600 mg/km) with the worst impact on air quality in towns and cities.

Vauxhall Astra

The diesel Vauxhall Astra (Euro 6) tested by the DVSA has a provisional AIR Index ‘C’ rating, indicating high levels of NOx emissions (168 – 270 mg/km) impacting air quality in towns and cities.

The DVSA presented the results to car makers and invited them to improve the emissions performance of their cars. Several companies are in the process of offering solutions, but Nissan declined to do so, a decision described as ‘unacceptable’ by DVSA.

What does this mean for air quality across Europe?

The results of these tests raise questions about how appropriate Euro 6 is as a reliable predictor of emissions.

City policy makers across Europe who are using, or plan to use, Euro 6 as the basis for city access will be unable to stop over-emitting cars adding to poor urban air quality.

We are not aware of a single Clean Air Zone (CAZ) or ULEZ operating in Europe which has implemented a way to discriminate between clean and over-emitting Euro 6 vehicles.

AIR Index can change that. We need to see policy makers use a more accurate way to stop over-emitting vehicles into ULEZ and Clear Air Zones.

How can I contribute to reducing NOx emissions?

The most effective way to reduce urban NOx emissions is to choose and use vehicles with the best AIR Index ratings, where ‘A’ is the cleanest. In fact, ‘E’ rated vehicles can produce more than 20 times the level of NOx emissions than an ‘A’ rated vehicle and so your vehicle choice will make a real and lasting difference to the quality of air that we breathe.

You can search the ratings using our vehicle checker and please encourage family and friends to do the same because vehicles stay in use for a long time (up to 14 years), which means the wrong choice can have a serious impact, years after the first owner has sold it.

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We provide practical solutions, including the AIR Index vehicle ratings, to ensure that independent, scientifically robust data are available to inform discussions and policy decisions which can help reduce the impact of harmful vehicle emissions. We are guided by a committee of the world's leading emissions and air quality experts who give their time and expertise to support our common goal of improving air quality and tackling the climate crisis. The AIR Index ratings and our expertise are used by public authorities and organisations across Europe to inform policy decisions. The AIR Alliance is a not-for-profit organisation and we fund our own testing and scientific programmes to provide AIR Index ratings free of charge. Please would you consider making a donation to support our work?

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