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MEP on the Second Draft of Limits and Measurement Methods for Emissions from Light-duty Vehicles for Comments (national Stage V)

The draft of Limits and Measurement Methods for Emissions from Light-duty Vehicles (National Stage V) (hereinafter referred to as LMME-LDV-V) was announced today for the second round of public comments. So, a journalist interviewed the leading official of MEP Department of Science, Technology, and Standards on matters about the amendments to the LMME-LDV-V, which is a public concern.

Q1: What is the ongoing emission standard for light-duty vehicles in China? Why is the need for developing LMME-LDV-V?

A: China has amended it for four times since the original version of Limits and Measurement Methods for Emissions from Light-duty Vehicles (LMME-LDV) was introduced in 1989, for the purpose of protecting the environment in the context of fast growing vehicle population in China. The four amendments are respectively LMME-LDV-I (Limits and measurement methods for emissions from light-duty vehicles, national Stage I) and LMME-LDV-II in 2001, and LMME-LDV-III and LMME-LDV-IV in 2005. At present, LMME-LDV-III applies to light-duty diesel vehicles, and LMME-LDV-IV applies to light-duty gasoline vehicles, according to the diesel and gasoline available in the market. The emission limits specified by LMME-LDV-III was 75-92% lower than those specified in the original version introduced in 1989, and the limits specified by LMME-LDV-V was 91-96% lower. The NOx emission had been up by only 4.6%, although the amount of light-duty vehicles had increased by 129% during the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2006-2010), thanks to the enforcement of corresponding vehicle emission standards.

The light-duty vehicles have been growing fast in China as more Chinese families can afford a car. About 16 million light-duty vehicles were produced and sold in China in 2011, topping the world countries for three consecutive years. What’s more, the annual growth rate of in-service light-duty vehicles has been above 20% and the stock had amounted to 82.64 million by the end of 2011. Over 90% were gasoline vehicles and less than 10% were diesel vehicles. The vehicle emission has been on the rise along with the fast growing population of in-service light-duty vehicles, bringing great pressure on the urban and regional air quality. Statistics shows that 800,700 t NOx, 65,000 t PM, 1.622 million t HC, and 16.217 million t CO were emitted by light-duty vehicles across the country in 2011. Light-duty vehicles have become the primary source of air pollutants in metropolises such as Beijing.

However, the vehicle population is still growing fast in coming years, and latest statistics indicates over 19 million automobiles (including about 17 million light-duty vehicles) were produced and sold in 2012. The population is expected to have grown by around 80 million during the ongoing Five-Year Plan period from 2011 to 2015. Ambient air quality standards (GB 3095-2012) specifies PM2.5 and O3 (Max. 8-hour average) as pollution indexes, sets lower emission limits for other indexes including PM10, and calls for strengthening the effort to fight air pollution by major industries. Therefore, it is necessary to tighten the control of emission from light-duty vehicles and cut down the emission contribution by every single vehicle, in order to ease the pressure caused by growing vehicle population on the environment and achieve the targets to improve ambient air quality sooner.

Q2: To what kinds of vehicles does the standard apply?

A: It applies to vehicles with gross weight below 3.5 t. From the perspective of fuels, the vehicles include gasoline vehicle, diesel vehicle, gas-powered vehicle (eg. natural gas, LPG), bi-fuel vehicles, and hybrids. The standard applies to the engineering approval, production and sales of new vehicles instead of in-service vehicles.

Q3: what are the differences between LMME-LDV-IV and LMME-LDV-V in terms of regulated pollutants and their emission limits?

A: As amendments to LMME-LDV-IV, LMME-LDV-V has similar outline and framework but tougher technical specifications. The regulated pollutants identified by LMME-LDV-V include nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), THC, NMHC, particulate matters (PM), and particle number (PN). PN is identified as a new pollutant index, which may advance the adoption of more effective emission control technologies and reduce particular matters specifically PM2.5.

The LMME-LDV-V (second draft for comment) sets lower emission limits for original pollution indexes. Taking sedan as an example, the emission limit for NOx from gasoline vehicles was lower by 25%, the limit for NOx from diesel vehicles was cut down by 28%, and the limit for PM tuned down by 82%. The mileage of emission control devices on vehicles tuned up from 80,000 km to 160,000 km, which means the emissions from a vehicle have to be below the limits set by LMME-LDV-V within a mileage up to 160,000 km. The life cycle of most family sedans is up to 160,000 km.

As far as overseas vehicle emission regulations and standards are concerned, the emission control requirements set in the second draft for comment are equivalent to those of the ongoing Stage V emission standards set by EU for light-duty vehicles.

Q4: What are the differences between the environmental requirements set by the second draft LMME-LDV-V and the ongoing standard LMME-LDV-IV for light-duty vehicles?

A: The second draft LMME-LDV-V sets out new technical specifications for the following three aspects, in light of the actual environmental management requirements for vehicles and the experience gained since the enforcement of LMME-LDV-I.

a. The specifications for check of components and parts essential to emission control. Among others, the variety and content of precious metals in the catalyst converters are highly relevant to the vehicle emission control. Moreover, carbon canister is the core component for controlling refueling vapor, and its performance affects the refueling vapor recovery efficiency in driving. The intensified check on the two kinds of components and parts helps make sure the vehicles meet emission standards.

b. Improvements to the procedures for check on production conformity. New and highly operable procedures are specified for the environmental spot check and qualification test of vehicles from streamlines, for the purpose of environmental enforcements and management in our country.

c. Specifications for enhanced functions of the on-board diagnostics (OBD). Original specifications about OBD were set out by LMME-LDV-III. Compared with LMME-LDV-IV, LMME-LDV-V sets lower emission limits for OBD, increases its regulated pollutants and enhances its functions, which helps monitor the actual emission conditions of in-service vehicles.

Q5: How was the first round of public comment going? Why is the need for second round?

A: The drafting of LMME-LDV-V has always been a public concern. MEP announced the first draft for comment in March 2011 and got responses from 60 organizations, 35 out of which contributed advices in writing. There were 305 pieces of advices, 270 of which were about improvements to the standard, in respect to PN control, frequency monitoring of OBD, check of the components and parts essential to emission control, check of the production conformity, Onboard Refueling Vapor Recovery (ORVR) and the implementation plan.

After the first round of public comment, MEP analyzed and debated on each and every piece of the advices, and adopted completely or in part 232 ones focusing on identifying PN as one of the regulated pollutants, adding the specifications about the actually monitored frequency of OBD, and improvements to the methods for check of production conformity. The remaining 38 pieces of advices were not adopted, mainly about abolishment of the specifications on testing the content of precious metals in catalyst converters, and adding the technical specifications on ORVR. Considering the wide influence of the standard, the draft for the second round of public comment is hereby announced.

Q6: What are the considerations about the technical concerns of ORVR?

A: There is a certain amount of gasoline vapor from the refueling valve of gasoline vehicle while refueling. Two technologies are able to control the refueling vapor effectively, i.e., Stage II refueling vapor recovery technology and ORVR technology. Among the major developed countries, some EU member countries adopt the former technology, the U.S. combines the two, while Japan does not require refueling vapor recovery at current stage. China phased in Stage II refueling vapor recovery technology as of 2007, and major regions including Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, the Yangtze River Delta, and Pearl River Delta have already completed the technical upgrading for Stage II refueling vapor recovery technology to control refueling vapor.

In the first round of public comment, some organizations suggest adding specifications about ORVR technology. MEP Department of Science, Technology and Standards organized expert panels to deliberate this matter and concluded that an overall evaluation of ORVR is in need before actually adopting this technology, including the post-adoption environmental impact assessment, cost-benefit analysis, and verification by practical experiments. The situation we are facing is that such evaluation still needs more time, while the clock for announcement of LMME-LDV-V is ticking, so there are no specifications about ORVR in LMME-LDV-V.

Q7. Why isn’t there any clear timetable for enforcement of LMME-LDV-V in the second draft for comment?

The enforcement of vehicle emission standards is extremely relevant to the availability of matching fuels in the market. Relevant State departments are working on the texts of Gasoline for Vehicle Use (Stage V) and Diesel for Vehicle Use (Stage V), and relevant State ministries and commissions are making earnest efforts to try nailing down a timetable for the supply in the market of quality fuels in compliant with the above two standards. We will set the date of enforcement of LMME-LDV-V in accordance with that timetable.

Q8: What is the relation between local emission limits and measurement methods for emissions from light-duty vehicles (positive ignition) (BEIJING V) and LMME-LDV-V?

A: Each province, autonomous region or municipality may, upon the approval of State Council, set local standards on vehicle emission which are stricter than national standards, in accordance with Law on Prevention and Control of Atmospheric Pollution and Measures on the Review and Approval of Local Standards for Emission of Air Pollutants from Vehicles. The date of enforcement of LMME-LDV-V was affected by technical concerns and availability of quality fuels. Study shows that vehicles have become the main source of air pollutants in Beijing, emitting 58% of NOx, 40% of VOCs, and 22% of PM2.5 in the city. Beijing took the lead in introducing local emission standards for light-duty gasoline vehicles (Stage V) because of the impending need to improve regional air quality. Meanwhile, there were low-sulfur vehicle fuels available in the Beijing market, so Beijing had the conditions to introduce the local emission standards (Stage V). Beijing will abolish its local standards and introduce the national standards (Stage V) as soon as the latter is enforced.

Q9. If enforced, how will the standard help improve ambient air quality in urban areas of our country?

A: As mentioned before, once the standard takes effect, each light-duty vehicle will cut down its emission of NOx by 25% to 28% and PM by 82%. In the meantime, the emission control effects of vehicles in driving will be better thanks to higher requirements for the OBD, the testing of essential components (catalyst converters and carbon canisters) and requirement of a longer mileage of the emission control devices.

Moreover, the enforcement of this standard will advance the upgrading of vehicle gasoline and diesel in our country, not only reducing the emissions from new vehicles but improving the emission control effects of considerable amount of in-service vehicles. Study shows that the upgrading of vehicle fuel quality from Stage IV to Stage V will help vehicles meeting Stage I and Stage II emission standards cut down NOx by around 3% and vehicles meeting Stage IV and Stage V emission standards, by around 10%. In this sense, the sooner there is vehicle fuels meeting Stage V standards available in the market, the sooner this standard will be enforced accordingly, and the more significant it will be to cut down primary pollutants including NOx, THC, and PM, as well as secondary pollutants including PM2.5 and O3, and improve ambient air quality in urban areas.

(This English version is for your reference only.In case any discrepancy exists between the Chinese and English context, the Chinese version shall prevail.)