21 May 1999

Fuel quality, vehicle technology and their interactions

Report no. 99/55: CONCAWE has studied the many aspects important when considering fuel quality. The report reviews the complex interactions between fuels, vehicle technology, test cycles and reference fuels with regard to their relative influences on vehicle emissions, fuel consumption, CO2, durability and customer acceptance. Implications for the refining industry and trends in-vehicle technology are also discussed as these are fundamental for a cost-effective approach to contribute to meeting air quality standards.

The study concludes that the effects of fuel changes alone on emissions and performance are relatively small, but benefits arise when they are used to enable new technologies. Therefore, fuels and engines need to be developed together as a common system. Such developments have to be assessed in view of their global impact on a "cradle to grave" basis. To produce sufficient quantities of fuel, the flexibility of the refineries has to be sure by specifying fuel properties only where a clear link to vehicle performance or emissions is proven.

Harmonising fuel specifications can only go in parallel with emissions limits, vehicle technology and test cycles. CONCAWE believes that more joint industry technical programmes, such as EPEFE, AQIRP and JCAP, are required to expand the existing sound scientific database to the rapidly developing new technologies.

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