Everything you need to know about European emissions standards

Published by on 03.09.2020 - 3 min

In January 2020, a new version of European emissions standards – also called “Euro standards” – came into force. How are these set, and how can you determine what standard your vehicle meets?

What are European emissions standards?

First introduced in 1992, European emissions standards, called “Euro standards,” define consumption and set limits for polluting emissions from vehicles. Initiated by the European Union, which reevaluates them regularly, these norms have been made increasingly strict over time in the interest of environmental protection. Each new version is referred to as “Euro” followed by a number. For example, the first standard was “Euro 1,” and the latest, which came into effect on the 1st of January 2020, is “Euro 6.”

The WLTP: more thorough, more accurate tests



Until now, the certification was determined using the NEDC protocol (New European Driving Cycle.) Created in 1973, this procedure aimed to reproduce actual road driving conditions in a laboratory.
As a result of a new review of the Euro standards in 2017, the NEDC was judged to be obsolete and replaced by the new WLTP standards (Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure.)

The WLTP testing conditions are stricter and are supplemented by tests performed in actual driving conditions, called RDE (Real Driving Emissions.) These are conducted on the road and take into consideration a wider range of traffic conditions and driving styles. The laboratory test results are then compared to actual driving conditions in order to determine an average conformity factor, a value that drivers should not exceed. These scenarios are much more effective when measuring the range of electric vehicles.

How do you know what Euro standard your vehicle meets?

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The Euro standard of a vehicle depends primarily on a single factor: its age. To find out what Euro standard your vehicle meets, simply refer to your vehicle’s registration (“carte grise” in France, “UK registration certificate” in the United Kingdom, “Carta di Circolazione” in Italy, etc.)

In EU countries, the Euro standard also imposes restrictions on driving in certain zones, called LEZs (Low-Emission Zones) at certain times or even permanently. In France, for example, the Euro standard is linked to the Crit’air classification depending on the vehicle’s pollutant level. When a driving restriction scheme is in effect, only vehicles with the right certifications are allowed on the road. Obviously, electric vehicles, which have a special certification, may still be driven in these cases. To find out your vehicle’s Crit’air classification and order your certificate, head to the official website.
In Belgium, vehicles that don’t meet the right Euro standard are prohibited in the region of Brussels. The same is true in London, where permanent “ULEZs” (Ultra Low Emission Zones) ban vehicles that don’t meet the latest Euro standard. However, after Brexit, Britain’s standards may be evaluated differently.


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