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Air quality ‘remains a priority’ – SMMT

Days after the launch of the Euro 6 emissions standard for light passenger vehicles, the UK motor industry says air quality remains a major issue

Just days after the launch of the Euro 6 emissions standard for light passenger vehicles, the UK’s motor industry has said it recognises that air quality remains a major issue.

Addressing journalists at an air quality briefing in London, Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, declared: “To improve air quality is one of the most important issues facing urban society and the motor sector.

SMMT air quality event: (left) Phil Stones, head of powertrain emissions and fuel at research firm Millbrook explains new on board testing for vehicles with (right) Mike Hawes looking on

SMMT air quality event: (left) Phil Stones, head of powertrain emissions and fuel at research firm Millbrook explains new on board testing for vehicles with (right) Mike Hawes looking on

“Air quality remains a priority. It is possibly at the best it has been since the industrial revolution but it is not good enough, there is still more to do.â€?

And, Mr Hawes, writing in a booklet entitled ‘Air Quality: the automotive industry contribution’ argued that air quality “is a local issue and therefore technology must be underpinned by nationally-led policies supported at a local level; policies that consider traffic flow, congestion and infrastructure and encourage optimal driver and fleet behaviour.â€?

The booklet also presents figures from the SMMT which show that while there has been an 88% reduction in NOx in a 1.6 diesel VW Golf of 88% when comparing a 2015 model with a 1987 model, the reduction in CO2 generated has only fallen by 31% to 99g in 2015 against 143g in 1987.

Speaking at the event, Mr Hawes noted that the focus of environmental standards has changed. “First of all the standards were to meet NOx and then very much particulates. Euro 6 focus is on NOx.â€?

The chief executive made the point that while new passenger cars are much improved in terms of emissions, parts of the UK still face emissions blackspots. And, he declared: “We need to ensure that these new vehicles with the latest technology are going to get on the road as soon as possible.â€?

Incentive scheme

But, Mr Hawes ruled out any incentive scheme to get older vehicles off the road, although speakers from Jaguar Land Rover and equipment firm Delphi thought the idea would make sense.

Mr Hawes said an incentive scheme was unlikely because “We live in straitened times in terms of public expenditure and there a range of other measures available to policy makers.â€?

However, Alan Jones, chief engineer for engine calibration and controls, at Jaguar Land Rover said he thought an incentive scheme might bring benefits: “Incentive schemes are probably the most sensible way forward, there would have been an emissions drop at the time of the incentive scheme during the recession.â€?

Dr Marcus Davies, core calibration manager at Ford, explained the virtues of the 1 litre ecoboost petrol engine

Dr Marcus Davies, core calibration manager at Ford, explained the virtues of the 1 litre ecoboost petrol engine

And, the threat posed by emissions from current vehicles was highlighted by Ken Smith, medium duty generic system manager, at Delphi. He said: “We could make a very large step in improving air quality by persuading customers to replace older vehicles with the later newer vehicles. 36% of vehicles out there are 10 years old. If they were all new, there would be an 84% reduction in NOX, and 91% reduction in particulates.â€?

The achievements made by motor vehicle manufacturers, such as Ford and Jaguar Land Rover, in reducing emissions were evident at the presentation.

Mr Jones explained how the company had adopted one of two potential solutions to achieve greater NOx and CO2 reduction for its new Ingenium diesel engine choosing Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) and a new low-pressure exhaust gas recirculation system.

He said: “Jaguar Land Rover has chosen selective catalytic reduction which uses an ammonia reductant to continuously react with NOX and convert it to harmless nitrogen gas.â€?

Mr Jones said that the company “is committed to developing this clean technologyâ€? adding that the “diesel engine is still round about 20% better than petrol in terms of CO2 emissions.â€?

Ingenium

Development of the Ingenium engine, he said, had taken, four years to develop with a £500,000 investment and Mr Jones commented that “the diesel engine has provided a huge benefit in reduced CO2 emissions and will continueâ€?.

Dr Marcus Davies, calibration manager, Ford, highlighted the benefits of the company’s one litre ecoboost engine for smaller family cars. “The 1 litre eco-boost is cost effective to our customers, it has less cylinders and lower costs.â€?

With turbocharging, direct injection, twin variable cam timing the engine has greater flexibility compared to standard petrol engine, he added.

And, reflecting on the ongoing challenge of making combustion engines more efficient, he said that by using heat from the exhaust, a 50% efficient combustion engine could be feasible.

  • SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes will be speaking about the motor industry’s contribution to air quality at the National Air Quality Conference in Birmingham on October 1. Click here for more information.

Related Links:

Air Quality: the Automotive Industry Contribution (opens as PDF)

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