Chinese automakers stalled by EU emissions rules
Great Wall Motors and SAIC Motors' MG brand are among the Chinese automakers facing a sales roadblock in western Europe because they don't have diesel engines that can meet the region's tough emissions standards.
Euro 6 rules, which took effect for all new vehicles a year ago, limit nitrogen oxides emissions to no more than 80 milligrams per kilometer.
A Great Wall spokeswoman told Automotive News Europe that the company doesn't know when it will have a Euro 6 diesel ready for the only model it sells in western Europe, the Steed pickup.
Great Wall's importer in the UK told ANE it has permission to sell the last of its Euro 5-compliant Steeds, but after that the future is uncertain. Great Wall sold just 43 vehicles in Europe in the first six months of the year, according to figures from market researcher JATO Dynamics.
MG, which is owned by Chinese automaker SAIC, said earlier this year that it stopped selling diesels the UK, the only European market where its products are available, because its 1.9-liter engine wouldn't be upgraded to meet Euro 6 rules. That decision effectively ended European sales of the MG6 midsize sedan. MG also has no immediate plans to offer a diesel in its new GS compact SUV.
Chinese automakers have a difficult time justifying the investment in diesels because the powertrain is not popular in their home market.
“Diesel cars are going nowhere in China,” said Iain Fleming, vice director for engines at SAIC's technical center in Longbridge, England. He added that SAIC officials went before the Chinese government to lobby in favor of diesels, “but then the VW story broke,” he said, referring to Volkswagen Group's financially damaging emission-cheating scandal.
Chinese automaker are not the only one struggling with Euro 6 standards. Brussels-based environmental pressure group Transport and Environment (T&E) claim that two-thirds of all Euro 6 cars sold in Europe produce more than three times the agreed limit on NOx, amounting to some 4.7 million cars. T&E claims manufacturers are “mis-using” a loophole to allow them to do so. “Dirty diesel cars are failing to operate their exhaust after-treatment systems for most of the time the car is driving,” the organization said in a report this week.
Automakers will face an even challenge when Europe's mandatory Real Driving Emissions (RDE) tests become part of the approval process next September. These tests must be performed outside the laboratory on roads using portable measuring equipment.