My Urban Car

Tech levels from MyUrbanCar – is your car a dinosaur or the shape of things to come?

In the period from now to 2030 cars will evolve more than they have in the previous 50. But for a least the next three years new car launches will be dominated by more old tech from the past than the future that beckons.  So what can we expect and when?

Updated 12/03/18

Our new app launching in Q1 will tell you how polluting different models are and where they fit in our tech levels.

Tech levels by MyUrbanCar

Tech LevelNOx emissions petrol car equivalentEmissions of NO2 mg/kmEmissions of CO2 from vehicleEV RangeEst Years on sale
0Over 3xOver 180AnyN/AUntil 2019
12-3x120-180AnyN/AUntil 2020
2 1-2x60-120AnyN/AUntil 2022
31x or lessLess than 60Over 140gN/AUntil 2025
41x or lessLess than 60Under 140gN/AUntil 2027
51x or lessLess than 60Under 75mg25 milesUntil 2040
Zero Emission/ EV Range real/ NEDCCharge time to 80%Full autonomyInduction charging
6Under 199/ 299 milesUnder 1 hourN/ANo2015-2021
7Over 200/ 300Under 1 hourN/ANo2018-2023
8Over 300/450 or Over 200/300 but 80% charge within 15 minsUnder 1 hourN/AYes2021-2025
9Over 300/450 milesUnder 15 minsLevel 4 autonomyYes2024-2028
10Over 400 real worldUnder 10 minsLevel 5 autonomyYes2025-2040
These tech levels run from 0 for the dirtiest old tech cars still on sale to level 10 for the most advanced zero emission self driving tech of the future

Level 0 – Old tech, massively polluting, toxic with a pungent stink 

These cars produce more than 3x the toxic NOx of a petrol car. (over 180mg/km). Fails current RDE 1 current emissions limit.

  • Over 75% of “clean” Euro 6 diesel cars are in this category and they will be sold until 2019. On average these diesels are 6x as polluting as a petrol car while the worst models are as bad as 30x*.
  • They make urban air toxic, harmful to breathe
  • These diesel cars produce a pungent smell of NO2 in traffic, when passing you in the street and when idling.
  • the unpleasant smell these diesel cars (and vans) produce affects trade for restaurants, cafes and shopping areas. It makes areas with traffic unpleasant places to hang around.
  • It is the cars in this category that are driving plans to exclude all diesel cars and petrol cars from the urban environment. They should be removed from urban areas (from big cities to smaller towns) where they do the most harm to health and quality of life.

* our figures are based on the EU NOx limit for petrol cars of 60mg/km. Our figures understate the difference as on average petrol cars NOx levels are well under 60mg/km while Euro 6 diesels average just under 400mg/km

Level 1 – old tech, highly polluting

These cars produce more than 2x the toxic NOx limit of a petrol car. ( NOx 120-180mg/km). Passes RDE 1 limit but fails the 2020 RDE 2 limit.

  • these cars are a big improvement on level 1 but when they are still more than 2x as dirty as the NOx limit for a petrol car why use in one?
  • They can’t pass the latest RDE2 real world emissions standard for diesel vehicles for UK VED applying from april 2018.
  • although new models launched since sept 2017 have to achieve this RDE1 test standard in a real world test carmakers will continue to offer new level 0 cars for sale until 2019.

Level 2 – old tech – controlled pollution levels

produce from 60mg-120mg/km of NO2. Passes RDE 2 but above the NOx limit for petrol cars.

  • Effective april 2018 diesel cars comply with the new definition of a clean diesel for UK VED. Cars that cant pass remain on sale but go up one CO2 tax band.
  • RDE2 requires NOx to be under 120mg/km in real world tests. As this pollution emissions limit is 50% more than the Euro 6 80mg/km limit required since sept 2015 you might expect every carmaker to be submitting their Euro6 diesel cars for an easy pass. The reality is that most (around 85%) Euro 6 diesels are so dirty in real life that they  couldnt get close to passing this test. On average they are over 6x as polluting as a petrol car.
  • Level 2 cars should be the minimum standard for new cars on sale but arent a requirement under EU regulations until 2020. Even then older dirtier pre 2020 models may still be allowed on sale.

Level 3 old tech – low pollution but high CO2

Cars producing less than 60mg of NO2 with taxable CO2 more than 140g. 

  • These cars finally pass the same pollution limits that petrol cars pass, in the real world.
  • They are suitable for urban use but except for short periods they do waste fuel and pollute when idling in traffic.
  • these mostly petrol and ultra clean diesels are less polluting with a taxable CO2 20g over the average.
  • Many of these cars will be cars that are bigger & heavier or have 4 wheel drive systems that make them very inefficient in urban traffic.

Level 4 old tech – but less polluting and medium level CO2

Cars producing less than 60mg of NO2 with taxable CO2 under 140g

  • These cars are the best of the old world tech – the cleanest and most efficient of internal combustion engine cars
  • An example of this is our reference car – a Skoda Karoq 1.5 TSI automatic. Despite being a petrol SUV it has CO2 of 128g and we expect tests to confirm NOx levels between 20-40mg. Cleaner & more efficient than the same sized diesel it replaced. How? An efficient petrol engine, 2WD instead of 4WD and around 400kg less weight.
  • these cars still run their engines in traffic when sitting in traffic except for short periods when a stop start system cuts in.

Level 5 – hybrid tech – less polluting / zero emission capable and low CO2

As class 4 but also Zero emission capable for at least 25 Miles and CO2 75g or under. Must achieve under 60mg/km for NOx when the engine is used which excludes current diesel hybrids. 

  • These are hybrids and Plugin hybrids that can often be charged with electricity
  • they can be very efficient especially in urban areas and produce little pollution.
  • Less efficient on longer journeys because of the weight of a full sized  petrol/diesel engine and transmission as well as EV tech.
  • The petrol (or diesel) engine is directly connected to the wheels but assisted by electric motors.
  • these cars sometimes use their electric motors for regenerative braking to put some energy back into the batteries when you slow down. However the regen tends to be much less effective than on EV powered cars so less energy is saved.
  • these cars include the very successful Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and the BMW “drive e” models.

Level 6 – First generation EV and next generation hybrid tech 2015 to 2021

Electric drive (inc with range extender petrol motor to generate power for the batteries) with room for 4 adults and 200L boot with real world range under 199 miles (or 299 miles NEDC)

  • The first generation EVs including the first Nissan Leaf either have very short range or are conventional cars such as the current VW E-Golf where boot space is taken up by batteries under the boot floor. Even early pure EVs like the BMWi3 lack the range and space to easily replace a primary family car.
  • The second generation Leaf currently sits in this level with its 235 mile / 150 mile real world range but battery upgrades could take it to level 7 in the by the end of 2019.
  • The new 2018 London Taxi is the best example of a next generation plugin hybrid. The wheels are driven by electric motors and the official 70 mile range in the batteries (real world 40 miles?) is supplemented by a small petrol motor to recharge the batteries.
  • This next generation hybrid tech has the potential to give all the benefits of an EV with no range limitation in a very efficient package. It’s surprising then that carmakers are unlikely to deliver this kind of package until 2020 or later. Cost is an issue and the time taken to develop a new car. By that time EVs will be level 7 or 8 and no one will worry about range any more!

Level 7 Second generation 100% EV cars  expected between 2018 and 2023

100% Zero emission with power regeneration from braking, room for 4 adults and min 400L boot with real world range over 200 Miles (or 300 miles NEDC). Ability to charge to 80% of battery within 60 mins

  • Ok 2018 startpoint is for carmakers other than Tesla who have Model S, Model X and Model 3 cars that all at level 7 for a while! Tesla will lose their monopoly with the arrival of the Jaguar I-Pace and then Audi e-tron later in 2018.
  • The fact that legacy carmakers will have little to add to these 2 EV launches until 2020 shows the scale of Tesla’s achievement. It also shows the scale of management failure in the European car companoes who thought they could ride out the storm and keep selling diesel cars that made the air toxic to breathe in cities across Europe. These new cars will transform the air quality in urban areas but having wasted time trying to keep old diesel tech on the road Europe is now struggling to catch with carmakers in the US, Japan and China
  • European carmakers will have a slew of level 7 Volume EV models from 2020 which will transform the market. Unless Tesla gets past its production bottlenecks and fills the gap first!
  • Second generation cars are designed from the outset to accomodate EV tech under the car but also have the range and space to become the main familiy car for long or short journeys

Level 8 Zero emission EV tech expected between 2021 and 2025

100% Zero emission with power regeneration and room for 4 adults and 400L boot with real world range over 300 Miles (450 miles NEDC). Level 8 cars will also include cars with a level 7 range but with the ability to charge to 80% within 15 mins. Induction charging should be increasingly available.

  • These cars are expected to have even longer range than level 7’s
  • Induction charging will mean no more charging cables. Cars will increasingly pickup power on certain stretches of road (charge as you drive) or when parked.

Level 9 Zero emission with next generation (probably solid not liquid) battery tech with super fast charging from 2024

100% Zero emission with power regeneration and room for 4 adults and 400L boot with real world range over 300 Miles (450 miles NEDC) and charging to 80% capacity within 10 minutes. Induction charging. Level 4 autonomy allowing driverless mode most of the time.

  • Volume carmakers aren’t likely to achieve this until 2025 but the holy grail of long range with charging that takes no longer than filling up with petrol is the point at which internal combustion engined cars really become extinct. The same result may be achieved by induction charging either “as you drive” or “while parked”.
  • With autonomy level 4 these cars will allow a long motorway or A road journey to be driverless but may require hands on driving in some locations.

Level 10

100% Zero emission and room for 4 adults and 400L boot with real world range over 400 Miles and fully autonomous driverless level 5 ( the car needs no human on board and can be told to pick up and drop off passengers then continue to another destination.)

  • these cars will drive themselves with or without a human on board
  • they will be responsible for any accidents that occur.
  • most will be accessed as a service when needed so while traffic wont improve fewer cars will be owned or parked.
  • these cars will charge themselves while driving or parked using induction charging.
  • these cars really will let you have a bottle of wine with dinner and legally and safely drive you home.

David Nicholson

David Nicholson Is the founder of Rivergecko Ltd & MyUrbanCar which provide consultancy and advice for drivers and fleets to speed the transition from dirty fossil fuel transport to clean vehicles powered by renewable energy on land water and air.

The @MyUrbanCar twitter feed is a source of news & reviews of electric & plugin cars and vans in the UK.
The @rivergecko twitter feed & www.myurbancar.com websites bring news and opinion on cleantech transport including cars, vans, buses, trucks, shipping, rail & aviation as well as autonomous vehicles & renewable energy, air pollution & motor industry news.

David Nicholson has worked as an underwriter at Lloyd's of London since the 1980's. His interest in technology goes back many years including interactive mapping, apps, green tech, boats, solar and cars.

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