Alternative approaches must be considered for emissions reduction 30 December 2009

Environmental benefits of the Euro 6 commercial vehicle engine emissions standard, due to come into force at the end of 2013, are disproportionate to their cost.

So says Martin Flach, product manager for Iveco, echoing the views of several truck manufacturers, hit by the global recession.

Speaking at the FTA's (Freight Transport Association) fleet engineer seminar in December, he also noted that, since the UK is a signatory to reducing CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020 and 80% by 2050, focusing exclusively on NOx and particulates for Euro 6 could be counter productive.

"Wouldn't it be better, for example, to take all older trucks off the road? Euro 1 engines had four times the NOx and 10 times the particulates, and they currently account for 16% of the UK vehicle parc. At a stroke, that would boost the economy and make a significant difference to emissions – and not just NOx and particulates," said Flach.

Figures for 44 tonners from the '70s show an average of 5.6mpg, rising to above 9mpg at Euro 4 and now Euro 5, as a result of innovations such as electronic fuel injection, EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) and SCR (selective catalytic reduction) technology.

That means a potential for 7% overall CO2 reduction from his suggestion – as opposed to the risk of fuel consumption and thus emissions rising, with Euro 6 engines, unless engine technology can be further advanced.

Flach also suggests that fleet engineers could focus on using low friction bearings and lubricants, as well as monitoring tyre inflation pressures and changing over to super-singles instead of twins. "We've shown that makes a surprising difference," he said.

Meanwhile, Flach believes that the claims for modern aerodynamics, for example on trailers, are exaggerated, but suggests that there is much to be gained from driver training, assisted by modern telematics. He also makes the case for driver education – pointing to the classic problem of drivers leaving engines idling during rest periods and at shift end.

"Some fleet managers are also asking us to reduce speed limiter thresholds from 95 to 90kph for 44 tonners, and 100kph for 3.5 tonners, to cut fuel consumption.

"And why don't we take note of the European approach to two-axle rigids, and use 12 and 15 tonners, instead of our 7.5 and 18 tonne standards? If you're not using 18 tonnes gvw, what's the point of carrying that 1 tonne of excess tare weight around?

"That amounts to £1,200 of fuel over four years and £1,800 of additional tax. All right, residuals might be down £1,500, but there's still a significant financial saving to be made – and 3.2 tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere."

Brian Tinham

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