European Motorcycle Emissions Cut by 70 Percent

BRUSSELS, Belgium, March 26, 2002 (ENS) - Pollutant emissions from new motorcycles will be reduced by 65 to 70 percent from today's levels across the European Union within four years, the European Commission announced today.

A legislative conciliation committee agreed to amend an existing law so that reductions in carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions will happen in two steps, first in April 2003 and then again in January 2006. Once implemented, the emissions cuts will alleviate the most serious environmental problems linked to motorcycles.


Motorcycle rounds a curve in the UK. (Photos by Ian Britton courtesy
The amendments to Directive 97/24/EC, the multi-directive for two and three wheeled vehicles, still must be formally ratified by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.

Welcoming the agreement, Enterprise and the Information Society Commissioner Erkki Liikanen said, "We shall have cleaner air in our cities and fewer and less severe ozone problems in the summer."

"Over the past four years," he said, "challenging emission standards for new passenger cars, light commercial vehicles and heavy duty vehicles have been introduced in the EU. It is therefore appropriate that similar measures have today been introduced for two and three wheel vehicles."

In 1999, the German environment ministry called on the EU to introduce tough motorcycle exhaust emissions legislation following publication of a study showing that motorbikes produce much higher levels of some types of emissions than cars.

European Commission figures show that the share of two and three-wheel vehicles in total road transport hydrocarbon emissions is rising rapidly.

By 2010, they are set to account for some 13.7 percent of the total transport hydrocarbon emissions, even though these vehicles would account for only two to three percent of total traffic volume by that date.

Last September, EU environment ministers agreed to motorcycle emissions limits from 2003, but rejected parliamentary calls for tougher legislation three years later. The agreement reached today overcame these objections, and motorcycle emission requirements from 2006 will be as strict as they are for new cars produced today.

As most emissions occur while the engine and emission control system is warming up, said the Commission, new type-approval tests will also be introduced. From 2006, the type-approval test will be conducted from a cold engine start.

Emission limits will apply to motorcycles in two categories - those with an engine capacity less than 150 cubic centimeters (cm3) and those greater than or equal to 150 cm3.

For 4-stroke engines, the 2003 stage represents a reduction of some 60 percent in the emission limits for carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons over the present emission limits.

For 2-stroke engines, the 2003 stage represents a reduction of some 30 percent in the emission limit for carbon monoxide and 70 percent in the emission limit for hydrocarbons, over the present emission limits.

The present limit for oxides of nitrogen, a component of smog, remains unchanged for 2003 to allow industry more time to concentrate on halving of the 2003 emission limits by 2006.

A Commission proposal due by the end of 2002 will also deal with requirements to ensure that motorcycle emission control equipment remains effective over 30,000 kilometers (20,000 miles).


Italian made Ducati motorcycle
By the end of this year the Commission will also deal with requirements for the measurement of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions as part of EU type-approval from January 1, 2006 for new types and January 1, 2007 for all types of two and three-wheel vehicles.

The co-legislators also agreed on the aim of including two and three-wheel vehicles in the Community strategy for reducing road transport CO2 emissions as soon as possible.

The Federation of European Motorcyclists Associations (FEMA) agrees generally with the emissions limits. The 400,000 member association unites 23 national riders' rights organizations from 18 European countries.

FEMA says that "established mandatory 2006 limits must not be distorted by any subsequent changes to the test cycles." The group is concerned that "hidden reductions" might be introduced by changes to the tests after the amendments are in place that would "go beyond the original targets for motorcycle emissions."

The European Commission intends to keep working towards the harmonization of test cycles with the United States and Japan, within the framework of the UN-Economic Commission for Europe negotiations.