Fleet News

Euro emission law may spell diesel death knell

FUTURE European emissions legislation could spell the death knell for diesel as the oil and motor industries struggle to meet new standards set for early next century.

UK Petroleum Industry Association director general Dr Mike Frend has said both the fuel and the vehicles would be more expensive to refine to meet new regulations. Frend said fleet operators would face higher costs across the board, as the oil and motor industries passed on the extra costs of hitting the new targets to end users.

The latest round of emissions levels - set out in the European Commission's Auto-Oils Directive published last month (Fleet News, June 28) - are the toughest in the world and indications are that diesel vehicles will cost significantly more to clean up than petrol cars. Emissions experts have concluded that diesel vehicles will not meet the oxides of nitrogen and particulates targets laid down by the Auto-Oils Directive using current technology while petrol vehicles will.

Speaking at the London First Green Fleet Management seminar, Frend said the cost of making the average petrol car comply with the new standards would be around 200 Ecus (£250), but a diesel vehicle would cost up to 500 Ecus (£625) to clean up. These costs will obviously be passed on to the end user.

IN his keynote speech to delegates transport minister Steven Norris said enlightened self-interest should drive the fleet industry's move towards greener practices. It wasn't the place of Government to legislate for more environmentally-friendly practices, he said, but the potential savings available should be ample incentive to turn fleets green.

He added that the Government would be unwise to interfere with people's aspirations to own cars - particularly when levels of car ownership in the UK were low compared with Europe and the USA - but patterns of car usage would have to change. Public transport would have to shoulder more of the transport burden, Norris said: 'You have to have a policy that involves the switching of people from cars to more efficient transport. Buses consume less fuel and occupy less road space - it's not a matter of political correctness, it's a matter of common sense.'

He added that the Government would not shy away from using fiscal policy to ratchet up the real cost of fuel above the rate of inflation and said this, combined with moves like the 15% cut in duty on gaseous alternative fuels, would make them progressively more attractive.

LONDON First delegates were given a detailed insight into what to expect over the next 10 years on the technical and legislative fronts. Introducing the speakers, seminar chairman and London Electricity transport manager Robert Constant stressed the importance of driver education to overall environmental performance.

Department of Environment head of air and environment quality Richard Mills said transport was the dominant factor in air quality, and future legislation would tackle this situation. In a guide to the likely impact of the 1995 Environment Act on fleet operators, Mills said the required reduction in emissions would need to be made through a combination of measures. He predicted improvements in vehicle technology and that the increasing use of alternative fuels would contribute around half of the 50 - 60% reductions in a hit list of nine key pollutants, but the rest would involve people and practices.

Director general of the UK Petroleum Industry Association Mike Frend outlined the structure and probable impact of forthcoming EU legislation on the fleet sector. Frend said meeting the standards proposed in the EC Auto-Oils Directive would cost EU member states £60 billion over 15 years. The new emissions targets are the most stringent in the world and will have to be met by 2010. Broken down into costs per vehicle, Frend said the average UK motorist would pay an extra £3 to £5 per year in fuel, around £6 per year in higher maintenance costs and between £12 and £30 a year to acquire his vehicle.

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