SMMT calls for faster take-up of latest low emission buses to help cut London’s NOx

15 March 2017

  • NOx emissions from buses could fall by 75% in London if operators update fleets with latest low emission diesel models.
  • Switch to Euro VI could reduce London’s total NOx emissions by 7.5%.
  • Industry calls for timely closure of legal loophole that allows older technology to be bought for UK fleets.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is calling on bus operators to take faster action on updating their fleets, as new figures show replacing London’s buses with Euro VI vehicles could cut NOx emissions produced by buses in the capital by up to 75%.

New Euro VI diesel buses meet the latest strict EU emissions standards, dramatically reducing NOx production compared with the previous Euro V standard. The latest Euro VI buses have proved they work in real world road tests and if 7,500 of the oldest buses in London were to be replaced, this could prevent up to 4,500 tonnes of NOx from entering the capital’s air. This is in addition to advanced exhaust filtering technology, which captures 99% of soot particulates.

Buses are a vital mode of transport in London with 10,000 buses transporting 2.1 billion passengers every year. However, while London has one of the cleanest bus fleets in the world, the majority of vehicles do not currently meet the latest tough EU emission standards.1 With these higher emission buses travelling some 334 million kilometres a year (68% of the total distance travelled by all London buses),2 a move from older diesels to new Euro VI models would see a drastic improvement to air quality.

It has been a legal requirement for all new heavy duty commercial and passenger vehicles in Europe to meet tough Euro VI emissions standards since 2014, with vehicles also tested on the road to ensure they meet strict levels in the real world. However, a loophole in UK regulation permits operators to continue to buy Euro V models. Manufacturers have been calling for this loophole to close, to ensure that people across the UK benefit from air quality improvements as soon as possible. This is set to happen later this year.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

Manufacturers have invested heavily to develop world-leading low emission diesel buses, helping reduce emissions in the UK’s towns and cities. Despite this, London’s bus fleet still produces a tenth of all NOx in the capital, so switching to Euro VI will result in significant improvements to air quality. It is vital that we get as many of these cleaner diesels on to British roads as soon as possible.

TfL bus fleet audit, January 2017
TfL bus passenger usage data, 2015/6