Euro 6 van emissions standards: need-to-know

Choose a van with the latest exhaust tech to beat new emissions charges: all you need to know about Euro 6 for vans

John Evans
May 3, 2019

Inner-city crackdowns on diesel vans began earlier this year, as local authorities attempt to improve air quality by imposing daily charges of up to £12.50 on the most polluting vehicles.

Built-up areas known as either clean air zones or low emission zones are only free to the cleanest vans; drivers of older vehicles will have to pay.

London was the first city to crack the whip. Since 8 April 2019, drivers of all but the most modern diesel vans have been subject to the new ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) charge in the centre of the capital. The zone will expand across most of the city in 2021.

Birmingham has announced that it will introduce a similar clean air zone at the heart of the city in 2020, which will also target the majority of van drivers. Up to 17 other towns and cities could bring in their own schemes in the coming years.

It's why a formerly obscure emissions standard known as Euro 6 is taking on far more significance among van buyers. Any diesel van that meets this standard is exempt from the charges, which could save more than £3,000 a year if you're driving into just one of the zones daily.

Petrol vans and electric vans don't need to meet the same standards.

Scroll down for more details about buying a Euro 6 van, or click below for deals on vans that meet the regulations.


Euro 6 for vans: emission standards

Euro 6 is the latest and toughest standard set by the EU for vehicle exhaust emissions and sets strict limits on toxic compounds in exhaust gases: nitrogen oxides (NOx) and tiny fragments of soot called particulates.

Every new van sold since September 2016 has had to meet these limits, so you shouldn't need to worry about low emission zone charges if you have a vehicle that's less than two years old.

The first Euro 6-compliant vans started to appear before September 2016 but the majority of older models only come up to the earlier Euro 5 standard, making them subject to charges in clean air zones.

Cars are subject to the same regulations, but manufacturers had to meet the Euro 6 standard a year earlier, by Septmber 2015, which means that it's easier to find a used Euro 6 diesel car than a van. 


Euro 6 for petrol and electric vans

Diesel engines tend to produce higher levels of harmful pollutants than petrol motors, which is why the proposed rules for low emission zone charges will barely affect petrol van drivers.

Under current guidelines, any petrol van that meets the older Euro 4 standard (including every van registered since January 2006), as well as the more recent Euro 5 and Euro 6 regulations, will be able to enter London's ULEZ and other clean air zones without paying a surcharge.

Electric vans will be exempt from all charges too, making the small selection of vans currently available look more appealing.

The government has recently announced a new van scrappage scheme, which will pay small businesses up to £6,000 to replace their old and polluting diesel vans, helping them to avoid the daily pollution charge.


What makes Euro 6 diesel vans much cleaner?

The emissions limits imposed by Euro 6 regulations normally require exhaust gases from the engine to be treated before being released from the exhaust. The cost of cleaner air is that vans may be more expensive, have poorer fuel economy or require top-ups of additives, which is why the regulations were needed to force manufacturers to incorporate them into their vehicles.

There are three main types of exhaust treatment that are used to cut down on exhaust pollutants:

  • AdBlue is an additive that's mixed with exhaust gases and reacts with the toxic emissions, turning them into harmless water and nitrogen.
  • Exhaust gas recirculation that involves re-burning exhaust gases in the engine to eliminate more harmful compounds.
  • A diesel particulate filter that traps particulates and burns them off when the exhaust gases reach high temperatures (at motorway speeds, for example).


Can I retro-fit an exhaust cleaner to make my diesel van Euro 6 compliant?

You can, but at huge cost. It would be much cheaper and less time consuming to just buy a Euro 6 van. Transport for London will not recognize vans with retro-fit exhaust cleaning systems, only Euro 6 models, so you’d be wasting your money.


What about converting my diesel van to LPG?

It’s possible that converting your van to run on Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) will reduce your van’s emissions sufficiently to enter the ULEZ free of charge. A UK LPG-approved installer will be able to advise you.


How do I check if a van is Euro 6 compliant?

Like many retailers, BuyaCar publishes the Euro standard of each used car in the technical information that accompanies each listing. Given the implications of buying a non-Euro 6 vans, you should also ask for the van's paperwork to be checked to ensure that the information is correct.

Alternatively, use Transport for London’s ULEZ vehicle checker which will tell you whether or not the vehicle will attract the surcharge (if it does, it’s not Euro 6 compliant).


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