For many years vehicle manufacturers have been working to reduce the environmental impact of their products and manufacturing processes. Achieving the right balance of economic progress, environmental care and social responsibility is of vital importance.
Looking for advice on how to save on fuel costs and reduce emissions? Click here to read our top tips.
In the last 10 years, huge strides have been made to reduce the environmental impact of its products throughout the life cycle. Since 2000, improvements in production processes mean energy used to produce vehicles is down 28%, water use is has been cut by 34% and 73% less waste enters landfill sites. Average new car tailpipe CO2 emissions have also been slashed and are down 17% compared to 10 years ago.
Looking to the future, industry will continue to drive down emissions as technical progress and a collaborative government approach will help to move the UK towards a more sustainable and low carbon future.
There are several key environmental policies which will affect the UK automotive industry and more details can be found in SMMT’s Annual Automotive Sustainability Report.
Tailpipe CO2 emissions
In 2009, an ambitious piece of legislation was passed which committed European car manufacturers to cut average CO2 emissions from new cars to 130g/km by 2015 and about 95g/km by 2020. In the last 10 years, average new car tailpipe CO2 emissions are down 17%. Car parc CO2 emissions have fallen by 4.4% over the last decade, despite an 18.4% increase in the number of cars on the roads and a 9.8% increase in distance travelled. SMMT produces an overview of the new car market and its environmental impact in its annual New Car CO2 Report.
In October 2010, SMMT hosted a workshop to ensure that the expectations of both small volume manufacturers and the European Commission are aligned during the application process for CO2 derogation. You can click through to download the presentation slides and Q&A summary from the day.
The Van (Light Commercial Vehicle) CO2 Regulation (EU) No. 510/2011 mirrors the above New Car CO2 Regulation No. (EC) 443/2009 with each manufacturer having its own overall European fleet average CO2 target. It sets a European fleet average target target of 175g CO2/km, phased-in between 2014 and 2017 and a long-term target of 147g/km in 2020. Each manufacturer’s target is based on the weight of each new van it registers in the EU in a given year. Only the fleet average is regulated, so manufacturers can still make vehicles with higher emissions provided these are balanced by lower carbon vehicles.
Industry has made significant improvements to CO2 emission levels in recent years and recognises its responsibility to deliver ongoing environmental improvements. In setting emission targets, a balanced approach is required that considers economic and social factors. Additionally, for these advances to continue, an integrated approach from road transport industries, governments, fuel companies and other stakeholders is critical.
Industry welcomes the legal certainty on the targets to plan for and will work towards meeting them. The targets will be challenging, particularly the long-term target. They will require market transformation to bring forward breakthrough technologies that are not yet cost effective for commercial vehicle buyers. Affordability is a key point because vans are bought by commercial operators, whose purchase criteria are determined by their businesses.
In recent years, vehicle manufacturers have been investing huge resources in developing lower emitting vehicles and technologies.
The following are some top tips that could save motorists up to 15-20% in fuel costs and emissions and help reduce their impact on the environment.
1. Drive smoothly, accelerate gently and brake sensibly – use the natural momentum of the car.
2. Monitor your fuel consumption and try to improve – make it your aim to get more from the tank every time you fill up.
3. Change into a higher gear at the most economical point – this usually means at around 2,500 rpm in petrol cars and 2,000 rpm in diesel cars.
4. Anticipate conditions and plan your journey. Avoid peak times and areas of known congestion.
5. Check your tyre pressures (and condition) regularly. Incorrectly inflated tyres can increase fuel consumption by up to 10% – and can endanger lives.
6. In stationary traffic or in temporary parking, switch off your engine.
7. Remove unnecessary weight from your car. An unused roof box could increase fuel consumption by up to 10%.
8. Use optional equipment sparingly. Turn the air conditioning off if you don’t need it.
9. Service the car regularly. Missing a service is a false economy.
10. Think about alternatives to the car. Public transport can be relaxing, clean and reasonably priced.
European engine emission standards
Euro engine emission standards were introduced in the early 1990s to reduce other pollutants from vehicles. They have led to significant improvements in emissions of nitrogen oxides, particulates and hydrocarbons from passenger cars, vans and trucks. Since 1992, NOx emissions have been reduced by around 67% and diesel particulates have dropped by 94%.
Euro 5 (light duty vehicles) is due to come into effect for all new passenger cars in 2011. Euro V is already standard for all new commercial vehicles. The Euro 6 standard will be required for new types of car from 2014 and vans from 2015. Euro VI applies to heavy duty commercial vehicles from 2013.
Energy efficiency regimes
In addition to efforts to reduce CO2 from the tailpipes of vehicles, industry has also put effort into reducing emissions from the manufacturing process. There are several energy efficiency regimes that the industry is covered by, the mandatory EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EUETS), the voluntary UK Climate Change Agreements (CCAs), or the UK Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) energy efficiency scheme.
SMMT’s METS (Manufacturers Energy and Trading Schemes) working group was set up to help the sector comply with the CCAs, an agreement set up between industry and government to achieve a discount on the climate change levy (CCL) by meeting emissions reductions targets. This group also covers the EU ETS, CRC and other areas of manufacturing energy use and how that relates to government policy.
SMMT’s members have made significant improvements in energy efficiency, including reducing emissions covered by the CCA by over 50% in relative terms (energy use per vehicle) between 1995 and 2011 and by 40% in absolute emissions in the EU ETS area between 2005 and 2011.
The automobile is already one of the most effectively recovered and recycled consumer products, with its parts being used again in vehicles or for other purposes. The metals used in its manufacture are routinely recovered, reused and recycled to high levels. The challenge is to recover non-metallic parts to enable the very high levels required by law.
The End of Life Vehicle (ELV) Directive seeks to increase the level of reuse and recycling of vehicles, improve environmental standards at sites processing ELVs and limit the use of material harmful to the environment in new vehicles.
The UK auto industry is committed to sustainable development and in 2010 achieved 85% reuse, recycling or recovery by weight of end of life vehicles. The industry is working to ensure that a 95% target will be met by 2015 in order to comply with the ELV Directive.
European Fuel Quality Directive
From 1 January 2011, the Fuel Quality Directive (2009/30/EC) enables the marketing of new fuels, in particular E10 unleaded petrol, which contains up to 10% ethanol. Fuel suppliers are not expected to market this fuel in the near future, however, in due course, E10 will be introduced and may become the main grade of unleaded petrol towards the latter half of the decade.
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has published a list of vehicles compatible with E10 petrol (regularly updated) on its website. This applies to fuels meeting the current EN228:2008 specification only; if you would like any further information please contact your manufacturer. A “protection grade” of unleaded fuel, which with no more than the current maximum 5% ethanol, will continue to be made available for vehicles that are incompatible with E10.
In due course, diesel will change to a mixture that contains up to 7% FAME (Fatty Acid Methyl Ester), more commonly known as ‘B7’.
All gas oil for use in all non-road mobile machines (NRMM) – known as ‘Red Diesel’ – must contain no more than 10 milligrams of sulphur per kilogram of fuel. This is a reduction of 99% (from the current 1000 mg/kg limit) and brings the sulphur level in the NRMM fuel to the same low level as already exists in the (white) diesel used by road vehicles.
You can also download an SMMT briefing about the changes to specifications of Non-road Gas Oil (Red Diesel) for more detailed information.