Engine parts manufacturer Bosch claims it has achieved a breakthrough in clean diesel technology by dramatically cutting emissions of NOx, the pollutant that has been the cause of much of the current anti-diesel sentiment.
Bosch says that in testing it has carried out in conditions that comply with the new RDE (Real Driving Emissions) standards, exhaust emissions from vehicles equipped with its new diesel technology are not only significantly below current limits, but also those scheduled to come into force from 2020.
Since 2017, European legislation has required that new passenger car models are tested according to a mix of urban, extra-urban, and motorway cycles within the new emission testing regime called the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP).
As part of that, the testing of cars on real roads under realistic driving conditions, so-called RED testing, measures what a car delivers in terms of pollutant emissions, such as NOx, while being driven on the road.
Under the new testing regime, new cars should not be permitted to emit any more than 168 milligrams of NOx per kilometre, a limit that will be cut to 120mg in two years’ time, from 2020.
However, Bosch engineers claim that under test conditions, vehicles equipped with its new diesel technology have achieved as little as 13mg of NOx in standard legally-compliant RDE cycles.
That is approximately one-tenth of the EU limit that will apply after 2020. And even when driving in particularly challenging urban conditions, where test parameters are well in excess of legal requirements, the average emissions of the Bosch test vehicles, it says, are as low as 40mg/km.
Bosch CEO, Dr Volkmar Denner, speaking at the company’s annual press conference in Germany, said: “There is a future for diesel. We want to put a stop, once and for all, to the debate about the demise of diesel technology.”
Bosch claims a combination of advanced fuel-injection technology, a newly developed air management system, and intelligent temperature management has made such low readings possible.
The reduction in NOx has been achieved by refining existing technologies, removing the need for new components and without adding to vehicle costs.
Bosch firmly believes that the diesel engine will continue to play an important role in the options for future mobility – at least until electro-mobility breaks through to the mass market.
The new target for Bosch engineers is the development of a new generation of diesel and petrol engines that produce no significant particulates or NOx emissions.
Our views is that while, vehicle selection has to be more carefully evaluated than ever before, diesel still has an important role to play in the fleet mix and is advising its clients to adopt a balanced fleet view that embraces a combination of diesel, petrol and alternative powertrains.
Managing Director, Martin Brown, said: “Petrol definitely has an increasing role to play in the fleet mix and the growing number of petrol sales confirms that. However, in many instances, especially for high mileage fleets, diesel is still the answer.
“The improving fuel economy of petrol models and their cheaper list price really can help to make them as financially viable to run as a diesel.
“But not in every case. Diesel still has an important role to play, but its importance will diminish over time, we feel. What that timeframe will be is difficult to ascertain. But for now, don’t discount diesel when it’s still the most appropriate choice for your fleet.”
Brown said that diesel has been the fuel of choice for the majority of fleet operators for a decade or more for a variety of reasons, including its fuel and cost efficiency and the tax advantages it offered for drivers.
“This latest news from Bosch may be the breakthrough that diesel needs to confirm that it still has a key role to play in fleet operations in the UK,” he added.