Mayor of Paris passes ambitious plan to clear the air

Global Problem

In an attempt to address the common problem almost all large cities around the world all share, Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris has pushed for an ambitious plan to clear the air. From Shanghai to Beijing, over Los Angeles and London – the air quality in these cities is considerably lower than in the surrounding areas. The detrimental effects to the health of the city dwellers – roadside measurements underscore the direct impact – is a recognised fact. It is also generally accepted that the exhausts from diesel vehicles – primarily particles and oxides of nitrogen (NOX), form part of the most harmful contributors in the deterioration of urban air quality. In Paris this has also become common knowledge, or quoting FNE – France Nature Environnement while excusing their French: “Le diesel tue!” (Diesel kills!)

Dirty Diesel

“How come”, one may ask. After all, modern vehicles have drastically improved their emissions! on the test bench. While their mileage is known to vary, real world results for gasoline vehicles indicate that they have in fact lowered pollutant emissions. there still is an undisputable, large discrepancy between the emissions as tested during type approval and the actual, real-world driving emissions. Brand new cars can be up to several times more polluting than the test results imply. Experts attribute this to the design of the tests not being able to correctly portray real driving conditions. On top, exhaust after-treatment systems suffer and deteriorate much quicker under city driving conditions. In the end, even our newest Euro 6 cars are in reality only as clean as Euro 3 would have allowed fifteen years ago. One might add, that there has been a reduction, albeit not as dramatic as testing limits might imply.

Three Steps

For this reasons also Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris was compelled to act rallying for her plan to ban certain vehicles from the inner city:

  • Beginning July of this year the most polluting trucks and buses registered before October 2001 shall be outlawed inside the city of Paris.
  • Following a year later, all cars registered prior to January 1997 and two-wheelers (motorcycles and scooters) registered before June 2000 shall relegated to weekend-driving only.
  • Between 2017 and 2020 the plan will also extend to more modern vehicles eventually outlawing all diesel vehicles registered before 2011.

Autogas Ready to Help

The plan also foresees a very intelligent system of incentives to attract more Parisians to public transportation, although capacity is already maxed out at peak hours at certain “hot spots”. Especially the assistance to join a combination of car and bike sharing schemes or a grant to buy an electric assisted bicycle are innovative. The incentives to buy new cars encompass electric, hybrid electric and natural gas vehicles. Regrettably the plan has a flaw: it has completely forgotten to mention Autogas! A considerable omission, we think, given the existing LPG-infrastructure has already been put in place. Stations along the  Peripherique surrounding the inner city centre and a total of over 100 in the Paris area alone make Autogas the most readily available clean alternative in the metropolitan region.

The French car manufacturers have picked LPG back up after their hiatus, reviving their efforts around the clean fuel with the introduction of a turbo-charged three-cylinder engine. This will offer the perfect replacement for the smaller diesel engines, today still powering the majority of the ubiquitious French hatchback.

Besides being readily available and considerably lower carbon than either diesel or gasoline (21% CO2-emissions from well to wheel) Autogas in fact combines the best traits of either conventional fuel, being nearly as efficient as diesel when used in modern engines (direct injection – DI)while at the same time emitting but a fraction of NOX and 80 to 98% fewer particles than DI gasoline technology. We hope the Mayor’s office recognises this mistake quickly and includes Autogas in their plans and give it the opportunity to contribute to cleaning up the city’s air.