Laws and incentives for clean emissions and low fuel consumption

Posted on August 10th, 2007 in Economy,Engine Management,Hybrid Power,Opinion,Power,Technologies by Julian Edgar

bosch-d.jpgArguably the biggest driver of car engine technology over the last 40 years has been exhaust emissions legislation.

The original Californian Clean Air legislation introduced in 1967 hastened the advent of electronic fuel injection (the pictured Bosch D-type system has just celebrated its 40th anniversary – and only 5 years after introduction, it was being used by 18 car manufacturers) and the march of clean emissions progress has barely slowed since.

These days, of course, the shift in focus has been from oxides of nitrogen and carbon monoxide to CO2 outputs.

But what actually are the standards causing so many engineers to pull out their hair? The laws rumoured to have lead to the foreshadowed demise of Ford’s Australian engine factory (more on Australian car manufacturing in an upcoming blog post) and which are making it so difficult to sell diesels in the US over the next few years? You’d think that getting a handle on all the laws would be damn’ near impossible – but that’s not so.

Here you’ll find a pdf download that shows all the current and pending emissions legislation in the major markets of the world. And not only that, but it also shows the different legal test cycles and defines tags such as LEV (low emissions vehicle), ULEV (ultra low emissions vehicle) and ZEV (zero emissions vehicle). It’s easy to remember the required data on the last: a ‘nought’ next to every emission!

For our Australian readers, Page 39 of the download has the data on this country.

The On-Board Diagnostics requirements are also interesting, especially in terms of how bad emissions can get before the warning light is triggered.

But while all that is well and good, it was the page entitled ‘Environmentally Related Initiatives for Passenger Cars’ (page 60) which most took my attention.

I don’t think even the most rabid big engine, heavy car nut would suggest that there should be no measures in place at all to encourage the widespread use of environmentally friendly cars for everyday activities. And around the world, there are plenty!

In Germany, an annual tax based on fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. In Japan, a Green Taxation System for low emission and fuel-efficient vehicles.  In The Netherlands, car registration tax based on vehicle performance in seven categories including fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and “an efficiency indicator proportional to other cars of similar size”.  And of course the US has its CAFÉ laws – Corporate Average Fuel Economy where car manufacturers are fined if their fleet exceeds the legislated average. And that average is tipped to shortly rise a long way…

Back here in Australia – and in fact in my home state of Queensland – the government has introduced higher stamp duty payments on cars other than hybrids. In other words, when sold, hybrids now attract a lower level of tax than other cars.

Now despite owning two hybrids, and being a fan of the technology, I think this is simply stupid. As the measures above show, you don’t need to embrace any specific form of technology – just set the disincentives on the basis of emissions and/or fuel economy.

The download may look like a bunch of dry data, but it has enormous implications for the performance cars you and I will drive today and in the near future.

It’s worth a browse.

One Response to 'Laws and incentives for clean emissions and low fuel consumption'

Subscribe to comments with RSS

  1. Matt King said,

    on August 10th, 2007 at 8:08 am

    Maybe this is too obvious for the politicians, but how about a direct tax proportional to how much fuel you’re actually using? ie, a PETROL TAX! wow, pretty easy isn’t it? Of course, to keep it fair you’d have to tax diesel about 17% more per litre due to its higher carbon content.

    I’m certainly not opposed to higher fees for thirsty cars, but it’s a bit cruel to punish people who may own, but infrequently use, such a car.

  2. Gordon Drennan said,

    on August 10th, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    I’m a campaigner for the restructure gas and electricity prices to remove “supply” charges, and for water and sewerage rates to be charged simply on $/kilolitre of water used. And in the same way I think charges for how big and heavy and CO2 generating and third-party insurance should be charged at the petrol pump. My neigbor is an example why. He has a big 4WD to tow his van. But he doesn’t want to drive it to work every day because it uses too much fuel. He has to though because all the charges like registration and insurance mean its cheaper to own one all-purpose vehicle that does everything, but wastes lots of fuel and emits way too much CO2 most of the time, than to own a big car for when you need a big car AND and small car for when you only need a small car.

  3. Graham Pring said,

    on August 10th, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    I was reading Topgear magazine the other day and one of the articles is headed “Mini knocks Prius to 3rd.”
    “Toyota’s popular hybrid is taking a bit of a beating. First the Volkswagen’s Polo BlueMotion stole its CO2 pole position with only 102 gm/km. Now the Mini has matched the Prius’ figure of 104 gm/km and beaten it on fuel economy with its new stop-start diesel.”
    Seems the Queensland Government is handing money to Toyota as both the other cars mentioned are not hybrids.

  4. Marty said,

    on August 10th, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    I’m keenly interesting in what Beijing will be doing for the Olympics, where they will trail removing 1/3 of the cars on the roads (1 million cars). It would be fun if it made such a tiny difference to the pollution that it was barely recordable… that might shut some people up.
    Then again, there’d be no media story in that, so if you don’t hear any more about what happens, my guess is the above!

    Perhaps they could send over a fleet of Porsche Turbos’ – According to some reports, the air coming out its exhaust is cleaner than the surrounding air! 😉

    Oh – to all those that propose a tax on the fuel to cover heavy fuel users: don’t kid yourselves! – You’ll get the tax hike on the fuel and they’ll still charge an arm and a leg for rego etc on the infrequently used car!

  5. Evan Smith said,

    on August 11th, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    Graham Pring, I was very surprised to see those stats! It only highlights why there’s so much difficulty in bringing in these new technologies. Alsmost everyone thinks there’s one single solution. Diesles, electric, hydrogen, gas. Singularly, these will help, but combined they would be incredible! Imagine a gas-diesel hybrid, with the start-stop technology of the Mini.

    I think hydrogen is majorly flawed, at least for current technology, but there’s already so much out there that just has to be combined to have a huge effect on lowering emissions. Also goes to show, the Prius isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!


  6. Julian Edgar said,

    on August 12th, 2007 at 8:31 am

    Not perfect but a move in the right direction –

  7. Andy said,

    on August 12th, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    Anyone else notice that Brazil doesn’t/won’t allow diesel passenger cars? Perhaps they are using Emissions legislation to prop up their local Ethanol industry.

    If only VW and Toyota would get together and develop a diesel electric hybrid. While they’re doing that perhaps some investigation could be done into diesel/electric traction for heavy vehicles. Surely there is significant efficiency gains to be had there.

  8. Marty said,

    on August 14th, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    “back in australia” — people are still punching out their catalytic converters as their first ‘mod’

    this i was happily told over the counter of the auto parts store i work at part time, and its not the first time i’d seen it

    i like to go fast just as much as the next guy and happily spend big on high flow cats and power up small, economical and light weight cars for fun (not up to electric motors yet!)

    that people have such disregard for the environment really gets my goat, so we’re just waiting for the world to change and you’re a few years ahead of us on that one.