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What Does Euro 6 Mean For Van Drivers?

First of all, what is Euro 6? Simply put, it's the latest standards introduced by the European Commission to regulate the level of pollutants released from the tail-pipes of vehicle engines. Euro 6 aims to reduce the levels of harmful emissions including nitrogen oxide (NOx), carbon monoxide and particulate matter, which is basically soot from diesel engines.

Different emission standards have been set for petrol and diesel engines. The permitted level of NOx emitted from a diesel engine has been drastically reduced by 55% from 180mg/km to just 80mg/km. In contrast, the NOx limit for petrol engines has not been altered from the Euro 5 standards and remains at 60mg/km.

As of 1st September 2016, all new light commercial vehicles (LCVs) must be compliant with Euro 6 standards. This means that if you are now in the market for a new van or pick-up, you're payload could be affected by the science behind the engines.

Renault Trafic Passenger Euro 6 engine

What is the Science?

In order to reduce the NOx produced by diesel engines, extra technology has been developed so that new vans are able to meet the new Euro 6 emissions standards. Three methods have been invented to ensure new diesel engines are compliant:

Exhaust Gas Recirculation (ERG)

  • Used by Fiat, ERG reduces NOx emissions by recirculating a percentage of the engine's exhaust gas back to the engine cylinders.

Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF)

  • ​​More likely to be used in smaller vans, the DPF works by capturing soot particles in the exhaust gas which are automatically burnt under high temperatures periodically to regenerate the filter and maintain exhaust gas emissions.

Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR)

  • ​Most medium size vans and above, including pick-ups, are choosing to use SCR which uses a solution called AdBlue (also referred to as diesel exhaust fluid). This helps to convert nitrogen oxide intro nitrogen and water.
AdBlue tank cap

How Does AdBlue Affect Your Van?

As most manufacturers are choosing to use Selective Catalytic Reduction to fall in line with Euro 6 standards, you will need to know what effect AdBlue could have on your next new van.

Firstly, your van or pick-up will need an extra tank to store the AdBlue solution in order for it to break NOx emissions down into less harmful nitrogen and water vapour. The tank is around 10-20 litres in volume and can take from 30kg up to 80kg of a van's payload.

It will also be your responsibility to keep the AdBlue levels topped up and cover the costs just like oil and water. Prices do vary, but it typically costs around £8 - £20 a litre and can be purchased from certain retail outlets, service stations and dealerships.

Euro 6 Isn't All Bad News

Although it seems like you're going to have be paying out a lot more to have a Euro 6 van; that really isn't the case. With more refined engine technology you get increased engine efficiency which means better fuel economy and less frequent trips to the pumps. Euro 6 engines are typically more powerful than their Euro 5 counterparts as well.

The main aim of the Euro 6 standards is to reduce NOx, but the newly developed technology also reduces CO2 emissions. This could be helpful should the Government decide to change the road tax system for LCVs from the current fixed rate to one based on CO2 emissions as has been discussed for 2018. Similarly, if you run a fleet, decreasing your company's carbon footprint could also help with taxation.

Finally, there is London's Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) which will to come into effect from 8th April 2019. All vehicles that do not meet the exhaust emission standards (ULEZ standards) will be subject to a daily charge when travelling in central London in addition to the Congestion Charge. Unlike the Congestion Charge it will operate 24 hours a day, every day of the year, including weekends and public holidays. Fortunately, Euro 6 engines meet the ULEZ standards, so you will not be subject to any additional charges.

London Low Emission Zone sign

If you travel into the ULEZ with a van that is not Euro 6 compliant, you will be charged an additional £12.50 per day. This means that vans travelling in central London during the business week could face an extra £62.50 per week, which equates to £3,250 per annum.

Even if you don't travel into London on a regular basis, or at all, having a van that is not Euro 6 compliant is very likely to have a dramatic effect on the value of that van because you are limiting the market that the van can be sold to - i.e. no business that travels into London. Therefore, purchasing a Euro 6 van now eliminates the risk of the van's potential drastic loss of value in 2019 and means that you can travel in the ULEZ without incurring any additional charges.

Do You Need To Do Anything To Meet Euro 6 Standards?

The simple answer is no. Euro 6 legislation only applies to new vans, so you don't need to make any modifications to your current van in order to be compliant. Euro 6 vans have been in production from several manufacturers for some time now, so when you need to buy a new van, there will be a whole range of compliant vans to choose from.

Euro 6 Compliant Models at Loads of Vans