Europeans drive a lot of diesel-powered vehicles. This is intentional. Since diesel is inherently more efficient than gasoline, many European countries give tax advantages to diesel fuel. In response, automakers in Europe offer several small diesel vehicles with high-torque engines, offering high mileage and practicality. Now, after decades of diesel burning, the European Commission will be publishing legislative proposals to improve air quality in the second half of this year and EU officials are already saying that European Union nations have to reduce emissions from diesel vehicles.

"Diesel vehicles are more efficient, but they emit a higher level of nitrogen dioxide than regular vehicles" - Jacqueline McGlade

The new rules follow recent enactment of tougher vehicle emissions standards and will be joined by an introduction of stricter vehicle testing standards. Air pollution has become a more pressing issue in Europe now that cancer risk was linked to diesel vehicles in a study last year by the World Health Organization. "Diesel vehicles are more efficient, but they emit a higher level of nitrogen dioxide than regular vehicles," said Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of EU body the European Environment Agency.

The European Commission thinks that nitrogen dioxide, combined with other pollutants such as particulate matter, which are generated by smoke and vehicle emissions, cause about 420,000 early deaths in the EU each year. Along with the cancer risk, air pollution can cause lung and cardiovascular disease.

The British House of Parliament received information in 2011 on diesel cars producing 21 more times as many PM 10 (large size particulate matter) emissions in grams and more than twice the nitrogen oxides than gasoline per mile traveled. The European Environment Agency said that comparisons are tough to make, given that the newest diesel vehicles have very low emissions of particulate matter, but there are still a lot of the older diesel vehicles on the roads.

McGlade said there are a "whole entourage of effects" linked to air pollution including reduced crop yield, harmful implications for unborn babies and lost working days. An internal meeting of EU Commissioners took place January 9, including a preliminary debate on clean transport.

Diesel-engine vehicles are growing in popularity in the US market, promoted by German automakers and taken more seriously by companies like General Motors. While clean diesel and high-performance diesel engines are becoming more appealing to Americans, air pollution and public health issues from diesel- and gasoline-powered vehicles are being studied in this region, too.


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  • 24 Comments
      wxman
      • 3 Months Ago
      Maybe the EU officials should pay attention to their own researchers... "...In the case of diesels, the limit value necessitates the installation of very efficient wall particulate filters which have been shown to be equally or even more efficient in capturing sub-23 nm particles. It is not clear however whether particulate filters will be required to control the particle emissions of gasoline vehicles. Port Fuel Injection (PFI) vehicles are generally found to emit below the diesel limit following the regulatory procedure, but were reported to exceed this threshold when a CPC with a lower cut-off size is employed. Direct Injection Gasolines (G-DIs) were found to exceed the diesel limit by as much as one and a half orders of magnitude...." Athanasios Mamakos; Urbano Manfredi, "Physical Characterization of Exhaust Particle Emissions from Late Technology Gasoline Vehicles." European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Energy and Transport, 2012 (Page 46) It's amazing that the regulators can't seem to bend over backward far enough for gasoline vehicles when they now have AT LEAST as high particles emissions. And also, why are only NO2 and particles mentioned? What about NMOG/VOC and CO? If they're not a concern, why are they regulated? If the EU wants to reduce particle emissions even farther, they need a program to buy back old diesel vehicles. Otherwise, they need to require filters on gassers because there's no more fruit to pick from current diesel technology.
        • 3 Months Ago
        @wxman
        @wxman If the EU wants to reduce particle emissions even farther, they need a program to buy back old diesel vehicles. no. hell no. 1... The EU emissions testing is flawed. 2.... Putting a shiny new badge on a new vehicle, (and a Particulate Filter) does not and never will clean up the exhaust to a satisfactory amount. 3.... Bolt-on water mist technology http://www.econokituk.com/ works with all fuels and is ignored by all manufacturers.. 4... remember its the FUEL which is toxic and the market for cleaner fuels (here in the UK) has been held back for financial Fossilised reasons only
        wxman
        • 3 Months Ago
        @wxman
        @Neiall Mullery - Why do you think that "Putting...(a Particulate Filter) does not and never will clean up the exhaust to a satisfactory amount"? There are a myriad of studies conducted over many test duty cycles that show that particle emissions from diesel engines with DPF are indistinguishable from HEPA-filtered background air. That's probably cleaner than the most pristine ambient air anywhere on earth. I invite you to look over "PHASE 1 OF THE ADVANCED COLLABORATIVE EMISSIONS STUDY", http://www.crcao.org/reports/recentstudies2009/ACES%20Phase%201/ACES%20Phase1%20Final%20Report%2015JUN2009.pdf. This study looked at 4 heavy-duty OTR diesel truck engines (U.S. 2007-compliant) over many different test duty cycles, and it was unable to distinguish between HEPA-filtered dilution tunnel (background) air and the engine exhaust with respect to particle number, except during regeneration which took place one time over a 16-hour test cycle for about 30 minutes. Same for a study of a Euro-spec diesel car by CARB (anything but a diesel supporter). I don't know how "clean" diesel engines are expected to be wtr particle emissions. Do you have any data showing that DPF isn't effective?
        budfox
        • 3 Months Ago
        @wxman
        ".... they need a program to buy back old diesel vehicles.' the yearly tax for old non clean diesel vehicles is extremely high within the EU. most are scrapped already.
      EVnerdGene
      • 3 Months Ago
      Dang, make up your mind Europe. Do you want good gas mileage or acceptable air quality?
        Rob J
        • 3 Months Ago
        @EVnerdGene
        In the words of Dora, "why not both?"
      LUKAFOTO
      • 3 Months Ago
      "Regular vehicles" - ie: petrol/gasoline: also emit particulates especially at higher mileages due to increased wear hence burning engine oil. In addition Benzine emissions linked to gasoline - in the USA the Gas Stations have better nozzle seals than in the EU where you can smell Petrol all day.
      Reggie
      • 3 Months Ago
      Average UK fuel prices (Gallon is a larger UK gallon) Diesel $10.33 a gallon 62% of that price is a big fat empty British Government TAX Gasoline $9.68 a gallon 64% of that price is a big fat empty British Government TAX LPG CNG $5.29 41% of that price is a big fat empty British Government TAX A lot of British based diesel refineries in the UK got decommissioned and shut down last year, which bumped up the price a little. A fall of 2.27billion litres in UK fuel sales over the first six months of this 2012 compared to the same period in 2008 caused the shutdown of a lot of UK based oil refineries.
      LUKAFOTO
      • 3 Months Ago
      How many diesel cars in California? Very few. Yet the CCR says that one in every 2 Californians born in 2013 will develop the disease and 1 in 5 will likely die of it.
      • 3 Months Ago
      ''''''joined by an introduction of stricter vehicle testing standards'''''' lets hope they are REAL-time driving conditions, MORE details if you please. with technology any new vehicle could beam back toxic exhaust reports so that the entire '''fleet''' of car owners are more aware of their pollution (choice of vehicle) and the manufacturer would have a running total of the TONNAGE of toxins they are responsible for with their poorly designed, inept, ancient, engine systems.
      Giza Plateau
      • 3 Months Ago
      Electric drive
      LUKAFOTO
      • 3 Months Ago
      "harmful implications for unborn babies" "420,000 early deaths in the EU each year" Compare this with: "Data from national sources and the European statistical service EUROSAT show that in 2008 about 2.9 million abortions were committed in all of Europe, including the 27 member states of the European Union and 14 non-EU countries. 1,207,646 of these abortions were carried out in the EU states, which represents 42 per cent of the European total. "
      • 3 Months Ago
      Good thing US emission regulations are forcing EU automakers to develop cleaner diesel tech, in order to sell their cars hear. They will be able to use that tech to meet their new stricter emission standards. Hopefully that will mean that EU and US will have the same emission systems, which will mean they can bring more models over hear, and actually give us a chioce of what engine we want in a car, like the rest of the world has. Also, maybe they will finally know how to work our our cars with these complex emissions systems. http://photos.motoiq.com/photos/i-MtZrJq3/0/L/i-MtZrJq3-L.jpg
      Actionable Mango
      • 3 Months Ago
      @diesel3446- Pretty much everything. Coal, gas, oil, hydro, nuclear, wind, solar, geothermo, I think there's even some tidal generators somewhere, and probably some hamsters on jogging wheels.
      Actionable Mango
      • 3 Months Ago
      Was there ever a diesel VW classic bug, or is that just a completely inappropriate picture?
        SirThoreth
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Actionable Mango
        VW built two 1.3L diesel boxer engines (not models, but actual engines) in 1951 to test in the Beetle and Transporter. They weren't terribly good: the Beetle managed a 0-62mph time of 60 seconds. And that Beetle's somewhere between a '68 (that's when they switched to that deck lid/bumper/tail light setup) and '72 (which was the last year before they changed the tail lights to the "elephant foot" ones). So, yeah, the only thing appropriate in the picture is that it's got a European plate. I want that spoiler for my '66, though.
          Actionable Mango
          • 3 Months Ago
          @SirThoreth
          That's a European plate? I thought Euro plates were short and wide. This is more squarish. And it has lettering on it I'm not familiar with.
        atc98092
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Actionable Mango
        Lousy choice of picture.
      diesel3446
      • 3 Months Ago
      What fuels are used at power plants to produce electricity and by industry in Europe?
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