Diesel in Europe – what does the future hold?Posted On: 20-03-2018 By: Alicia Bennett
By Ben Fielden, Conference Manager at Integer Research, currently building the program for Integer Emissions Summit & AdBlue® Forum Europe 2018
The recent decision by German high courts has now allowed bans on Euro 4 and Euro 5 diesel engines in major cities, while last year there were warnings of other cities in Europe considering action against diesel and gasoline vehicles. It’s fair to say that the legacy of the VW dieselgate scandal continues to loom over the industry.
The media has been very quick to pick up on these warnings causing uncertainty within the industry, but the more level-headed response has been to highlight that the German court is, in essence backing Euro 6 diesel vehicles as a clean and sustainable vehicle for the future and many of the threats to ban diesel vehicles have not materialised. There is an objective case to be made that diesel fuel still has a future in Europe.
Tightening standards and public perception
The VW scandal was discovered by researchers as opposed to legislators, however, since then there is broader recognition of the need for tighter standards, increased surveillance, and real-world monitoring. Some may view regulatory activity as damaging to diesel but properly enforced regulation can be beneficial for the industry at large and prevent future scandals from arising. Over the next five years, we expect to see regulation limiting CO2 emissions and an increase focus on real world contexts.
The European Commission (speaking at this year’s IES Europe & AdBlue® Forum Europe), and California Air Resources Board intend to continue regulating diesel and gasoline vehicles to reduce harmful pollutants, while countries like India and China work to align their legislation to advanced European and American legislation. The expectation is that there will be a continued emphasis on real-world monitoring and limits. Again, this could benefit diesel by helping to improve the public image of the fuel. If stakeholders can successfully communicate the efforts made to ensure clean diesel fuels and legislators can validate these claims with thorough testing, then consumer confidence can be more assured.
Diesel alternatives – what’s the reality?
In short, for trucks there is little alternative option with widespread availability. Natural gas trucks exist, but there is a limited penetration and infrastructure. Electric trucks will be hampered by lack of cost-effective battery technology and limited to inner-city logistics transportation,
Even allowing for considerable technological changes in the industry, which currently seem unlikely, the state of the existing diesel fleet has to be considered. Given a slow pace of fleet renewal, SCR-equipped trucks will continue to run on European roads for the foreseeable future. The AdBlue® industry has made continued investments in the infrastructure and product, sensing opportunities for continued growth, and this infrastructure will remain an essential element for low-NOx transportation. So, when considering the alternative options, it seems fair to say that diesel fuelled vehicles have a guaranteed future in heavy-duty engine operation.
In passenger cars, there are other trends which may help sustain diesel engines. Firstly, lowering NOx emissions to a level recommended by the World Health Organisation will take action across multiple sectors. At present, passenger cars have received the majority of attention due to the dieselgate scandal, but may only represent a proportion of overall contributions to total emissions. Total bans are a reactive measure and counteract the industries investment in low emission technology. Instead, it is possible that identifying uncompliant vehicles without the latest European emission standards or Euro 6 vehicles with tampered SCR devices, could be a more effective strategy than a total ban
Secondly, manufacturers have to consider CO2 limit reductions. These have been in place for a number of years for passenger cars and will be introduced for trucks shortly. Diesel vehicles have a lower CO2 emissions output. Replacing diesel vehicles with gasoline in the same vehicle class could lead to 30% higher fuel requirements. There is, therefore, an incentive for OEMs to offer diesel vehicles in order to achieve a lower CO2 emissions across their vehicle offerings.
The evidence from speaking with key figures in the industry seems to point to increased diversification of fuel choices for smaller vehicle categories, but diesel’s reign over larger vehicles such as trucks and non-road equipment looks set to continue.
How do diesel emissions control markets limit uncertainty and plan for the future?
For a balanced, comprehensive and realistic view of how this court ruling will affect diesel across the European on and non-road sectors, join us at Integer Emissions Summit & AdBlue® Forum Europe 2018. The information-rich programme will cover the future of diesel, CO2 legislation and emissions reduction challenges, alternative vehicle technology, future emissions compliance, advances in aftertreatments, regulatory updates, real-world emissions and measurement, hybrid-electric vehicles and the AdBlue® market.
Key speakers include representatives from AECC, The European Commission, BMW, Caterpillar, Ford Research & Advanced Engineering Europe, IVECO, Swedish Transport Agency, VW, Euromot, Renault Trucks and many more. You can see the programme here >> and find out who attends here >>.
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