Mercedes-Benz Citan has worst emissions of Euro-6 LCVs

Mercedes-Benz’s Citan model has the worst emissions of the best-selling LCVs in the UK, with real-world NOx emissions far higher than its official laboratory results, according to new testing findings.

The findings, published by the AIR Index, an international, independent and standardised rating system that reveals accurately how much pollution a vehicle produces when it is used in towns and cities, found great variation between real world emissions of Euro-6 diesel vans and laboratory-based legal limits. The 2019 Mercedes-Benz Citan 109 Blue Dualiner 1.5-litre official limit is 105mg/km of NOx but it was found to produce 902mg/km of NOx by the AIR Index.

Meanwhile, the 2019 Volkswagen Crafter CR35 LWB High Roof 2.0-litre was the cleanest Euro-6 van tested based on real-world emissions – with 53mg/km of NOx – emitting 17 times less pollution than the Citan, yet both vehicles conform to the laboratory-based legal standards of 125mg/km NOx.

The AIR Alliance commissioned tests for ten of Europe’s best-selling diesel LCVs using scientifically robust, on-road vehicle testing according to the latest CWA17379 methodology to give each vehicle a simple A-E colour-coded AIR Index rating, showing the difference between clean and dirty vehicles.

Volkswagen’s 2018 Caddy C20 Highline TDI 2.0-litre and Peugeot’s 2019 Partner Asphalt 1.6-litre both got an ‘A’ rating from the AIR Index, as their on-road emissions fall below the 80 mg/km laboratory-based light van limit.

Make Model Year AIR Index Rating Fuel Type Official  NOx limit* Euro Standard Actual Urban NOx mg/km
Volkswagen Crafter CR35 LWB High Roof 2.0 2019 A Diesel 125 mg/km Euro 6 53
Volkswagen Caddy C20 Highline TDI 2.0 2018 A Diesel 105 mg/km Euro 6 70
Peugeot Partner Asphalt 1.6 2019 A Diesel 80 mg/km Euro 6 73
Volkswagen Transporter T30 Highline TDI Bluemotion 2.0 2018 B Diesel 125 mg/km Euro 6 100
Mercedes Vito CDI 114 LWB 2.1 2017 B Diesel 125 mg/km Euro 6 147
Ford Transit Custom 300 Limited 2.0 2019 C Diesel 125 mg/km Euro 6 260
Vauxhall / Opel Vivaro CDTI 2900 1.6 2019 D Diesel 105 mg/km Euro 6 401
Citroen Relay L3H2 Enterprise BlueHDi 2.0 2018 D Diesel 125 mg/km Euro 6 557
Mercedes Vito CDI 111 LWB 1.6 (pre-update) 2017 D** Diesel 125 mg/km Euro 6 566
Mercedes Citan 109 Dualiner 1.5 2019 E Diesel 105 mg/km Euro 6 902

In terms of urban road traffic, van emissions have a major impact on air quality simply because they are used far more than cars. The average parcel van travels between 20,000 and 30,000 miles a year, while grocery home delivery vans can cover up to 50,000 miles. Vans are also the fastest-growing traffic segment, accounting for 70% of the growth in road-miles over the last 20 years. As internet shopping continues to grow, so do light van sales and their use on our roads. Every day there are 65,000 unique LCV journeys into London alone and vans contribute 15% of London traffic – and a higher proportion of diesel vehicular traffic.

As AIR noted at the launch of the AIR Index for cars earlier this year, a number of Euro VI cars still emit significantly more NOx on the road than in the laboratory test used for their type approval and there is huge overall variation between cars despite them all complying with in-laboratory Euro VI emissions standards.

Massimo Fedeli, co-founder and operations director, AIR, said that as LCVs play a vital role in moving goods quickly and efficiently around our cities and beyond – especially with the growth in internet shopping – “it’s crucial that only the cleanest vans are allowed to enter urban areas.”

He added that as with passenger cars, there is a “shocking” variation in actual emissions compared with the official results based on laboratory tests. 

“AIR is calling on cities to supplement the use of Euro VI standards for low emission zone entry – such as London’s own ULEZ – with the AIR Index database of real-world emissions results, to identify the dirtiest vans which are otherwise slipping through the net. By doing so, we believe the AIR Index could very quickly bring most European cities in line with air quality targets.”

Nick Molden, co-founder of AIR, added: “The results of these van tests for the AIR Index continue to hammer home the fact that current policy can’t do enough to prevent damage from high emitters and treat low emitters more fairly. This is impacting air quality across in cities across Europe and is potentially costing many thousands of lives. The AIR Index gives policy makers and fleet managers information they’ve never had before enabling informed decisions about the consequences of vehicle choice.

“The 10 Euro-6 diesel vans we tested represent just under half of the annual sales across Europe. If just those rated D or E were prevented from entering the centre of urban areas the AIR Index could bring all European cities into air quality compliance.

“But the ultimate responsibility to implement change lies with the manufacturers. With simple service-led engine management updates, it is possible to make vans much cleaner, dramatically reducing emissions immediately.”

Dan Parton
Dan Parton
Dan Parton is a freelance journalist and former editor of Truck & Driver, the UK's biggest selling truck magazine. He writes for both The Van Expert and The Truck Expert.

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