Truck manufacturers have called for a Europe-wide ban on devices intended to bypass selective catalytic reduction (SCR) diesel emissions control systems, after it emerged that so-called AdBlue emulator devices had been developed to sabotage emissions controls even on Euro 6 trucks.
“The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) strongly condemns the advertising, sale and use of any aftermarket device that can be used by truck operators to turn off emission control systems,” ACEA secretary general Erik Jonnaert said.
Using the devices saves truck operators the cost of AdBlue fluid, which litre-for-litre is typically about half the cost of diesel depending upon the quantities purchased – but allows the truck to produce unregulated amounts of nitrogen oxides (NOx).
Euro 6 trucks consume AdBlue at a ratio of between three and six per cent of the diesel used, depending on whether the engine itself is using SCR alone to control NOx, or a combination of SCR and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR).
Operators using the devices on qualifying trucks benefit from reduced environmental tolls and taxes, but do not have to bear the cost of purchasing AdBlue or maintaining the complex SCR system on the vehicles.
Transport Operator first highlighted the availability of such devices for trucks using SCR systems over five years ago, but UK enforcement authorities appeared to take the view that if the truck’s emissions control warning light was not illuminated, then there was no need to take any action.
The emulators work by tricking the truck’s electronic control unit into ‘thinking’ that the SCR system is functioning correctly, while in reality it is not working at all.
ACEA said it had raised the issue with the European Commission and member states in 2012, but no action was taken.
It called on the European Commission and member states to now ban the advertising and sale of any aftermarket device (hardware or software) that can bypass vehicle emission control systems or enable the removal of important parts of the emission control system.
It also advocated random roadside enforcement by police who are authorised to stop and check vehicles, so that truck operators are aware that if they are caught using one of these devices they will face a substantial fine, or their vehicle will be treated in the same way as if vehicle safety systems were defective.
Research by Transport Operator has revealed some online outlets are now selling emulators specifically for Euro 6 trucks for just over £1,000 a time. Devices are available for most leading makes of truck.
Many of the websites offering them caution that they will raise emissions to an illegal level in the UK, and claim that the seller is not responsible for the user’s actions in fitting them. A common justification is that the devices are intended for fitment to used trucks due to be exported from the European Union.
Australia has already banned the devices.
In North America, where the truck market was historically dominated by the alternative EGR technology, there is a thriving aftermarket trade in devices to disable EGR systems and remove particulate filters as these systems have proved troublesome in service.