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Einfahrt Verboten—But Not Just Yet

by Rafael Seidl

Today, authorities in Germany will start selling colored stickers to owners of vehicles, at €6 each. The color scheme reflects the Euro emissions stage to which the four-wheeled vehicle was originally certified.

Motor vehicles with just two or three wheels are specifically exempt. The PM10 limits given below refer to the M1 (passenger car) vehicle class, but the sticker scheme extends to buses and trucks as well.

  • Green (Euro 4, 2005) - 0.025 g/km PM10

  • Yellow (Euro 3, 2000) - 0.050 g/km PM10

  • Red (EU 2, 1996) - 0.080/0.100 g/km PM10 (higher number for direct injection)

Owners of vehicles that only meet Euro 1 (1992, 0.140 g/km PM10) or not even that will not be issued a sticker at all. On the other hand, owners can get a tax break for retrofitting a DPF, which also entitles them to a sticker of the next higher category. Initial plans for an additional sticker indicating early compliance with EU 5 (phased in 2009-2011, 0.005 g/km PM10) via a wall-flow DPF were put on hold.

The purpose of the stickers is to enable law enforcement in so-called “environmental zones” that individual cities in Germany will be setting up. Stuttgart and several smaller towns in the country’s Southwest are expected to start operating such zones by July 1, 2007. Munich and other cities are due to follow in 2008.

Vehicles without a sticker are to be denied entry into such zones altogether. On days with particularly poor air quality—which an EU directive limits to 35 each calendar year—local authorities are supposed to permit entry only to vehicles with selected sticker colors. The EU directive has actually been in force since 2005 but only now—and only in Germany—is action being taken.

One bone of contention is that in its current state, the legislation also affects gasoline-powered vehicles without three-way catalysts and those with a first-generation cat. This group also includes oldtimers. None of these will be issued a sticker and may therefore find themselves shut out of certain cities. There are still several million of these on Germany's roads, many owned by old age pensioners and low income earners.

There is now talk of amending the law to make an exception for vehicles with first-generation three-way-catalysts with closed-loop control, since they do not contribute to PM10 emission levels. Indeed, Germany’s ADAC considers the entire exercise pointless, claiming that only 9% of total PM10 emissions come from cars in the first place, with most of the balance coming from agriculture, industrial and home furnaces.

However, the German Bundestag’s scientific advisors estimate that 1/3 of PM10 emissions are due to vehicles. The discrepancy stems from the difficulty of reliably identifying the source of any given particle and, the scope of the test: PM sources in city centers are different from those in the countryside, though winds do complicate the picture.




This can be a great program if viable options to driving are offered in the environmental zones. If not, it could make life pretty rough for people who own older cars and can't afford to upgrade to newer ones. Europe may have the public transit infrastructure to pull it off.

Also, I think you mean "Eintritt Verboten." Einfahren refers to breaking in a motor while eintreten refers to entrance.

Rafael Seidl

Peter -

I don't know about you but German is my native language. Afaik, the semantics are as follows:

Eintritt (noun) = access to a building on foot
Einfahrt (noun) = access using a vehicle
einfahren (verb) = breaking in a motor (one of several meanings)

So you were half-right.

Wrt the sticker program, it's so complicated that I suspect many of those who may be affected haven't figured it out yet. Many cities have been reluctant to commit to the introduction of environmental zones or a date when that might happen. Others argue, with some justification, that air quality problems cannot be solved at all at the level of individual cities.

Many Germans consider the law an example of bureaucracy gone mad, perhaps because access restrictions would sharply reduce the residual value of their vehicles. Some will conclude that the time has come to scrap the old clunker after all and upgrade to a newer, cleaner car. However, as you rightly point out, that is a luxury not everyone can afford. Public transport systems are generally well-developed in German cities but for the most part their mayors are not at all enthusiastic about enforcing this unpopular new law.

However, it is also possible that these restrictions will permit a new form of transportation services to emerge, based on dynamically routed vans. These would be based on approximate solutions to the traveling salesman problems using dynamically updated traffic information systems at a central dispatch location that manages the fleet of vans. This would create jobs - albeit low-paying ones - and ease congestion as well as parking problems.


On top of the problems already stated I think another major problem is they don'take carpooling into consideration. If a car that has 5 people in it gets half the gas milage as a gar that has 1, the car that has one should be kicked out, if any. However if they include a carpooling exemption, this could work out just fine, in my opinion.


I stand corrected. I thought Eintritt referred to entrance in general. Einfahrt as entrance with a vehicle was not in my dictionary, but who needs a dictionary when you've got a native speaker?

I am surprised the law has gained as much traction as it has given its unpopularity with the public and local governments. Hopefully it can be managed well so that people's perceptions will change and they will see the benefits of reducing auto congestion in cities.


Time to say good bye to public PM10 communications. Under brand new Euro-4 new cars and trucks are being sold on with poor and even without filtration, Euro-5 is just one more farce PM-wise, Euro-6 expected to be particle mass limiting again, instead of focussing on number concentrations...
A debacle throughout sacrificing everything you can think of, in the name of MBPorscheBMW division of powersales.
Will have to have a break, go on with a break and restart with PM2.5 and PM0.5 - or whatever the smaller one will be established as.
Feinstaub may rest in peace, but fighting PMsmallish becomes so much harder by all this.
What do we expect from the diesel-nation?! (Sorry Rudolf, I know there are to be clean Peugeots, diesels on DME, CNG and Pipapo!)

Rafael Seidl

Mo -

you seem to be confusing a few things:

(a) back when Euro 4 limits were set, wall-flow DPFs were one of those promising technologies just over the horizon - where they had been since the late 80s. When Peugeot finally figured out a way to make the things last for the lifetime of the vehicle, German automakers decided they would stick with their strategy of meeting the limit without an expensive filter. They were actually successful and it was consumer demand which ultimately forced them to offer wall-flow DPFs regardless. So in Germany, Austria and many other places new diesel vehicles are offered with DPFs either standard or as an available option.

(b) The Euro 5 standard that will be phased in starting 2009 calls for PM10 levels 5 times lower than those required for Euro 4. With diesel HCCI not yet ready for series production, the only way to meet that will be with a wall-flow DPF.

Euro 6 (~2014) is expected to maintain PM limits while lowering those for NOx. If clean diesel takes off in the US, the NOx treatment systems will become cheaper and European legislators could decide to accelerate the timetable. For now, the primary goal beyond Euro 5 appears to be CO2 mitigation.

(c) PM10 is still used because PM2.5 is far more expensive to measure and, because all particles smaller than ~9 microns are believed to be capable of passing through the alveolae directly into the bloodstream. By 2010, diesel fuel will also be down to 10ppm sulfur content throughout the EU, rendering what particles remain much less dangerous to respiratory health.

However, you are right to point out that particle count measurement systems will likely replace the current gravimetric system in the next decade.



I don't see no confusion, but I like your last sentence. ;) (the more you think about it, the more you know that I'm right - UNECE GRPE PMP my ride).
Much less, of course, your tendencies ("rendering... " and all alike...).

CO2 - we had it before, this esoteric german diesel-marketing...
( )

By the way, did you write about the presentation on svo-emissions mutagenity by Krahl/ Bünger et al., yet?
PÖlers didn't like it too much :)
But I haven't seen the paper, so far.


I find this legislation cool - nothing being said about cars holding a foreign license plate. I work in Munich and drive a Prius - probably I get fined some time because my car is in the same category as EUR0 & EUR1 class vehicles. (Actually, despite the Prius in europe being sold with much less emissions reduction systems (ie. 2nd cat, fuel bladder, etc) it's still the cleanest readily available car around here... The US Prius is even (much) cleaner then the EU Prius.


fyi CO2

Richard, you must know how a salmon feels swimming upstream as you are in Deutschland mit (das?) Prius! please confirm you will earn at least a green sticker


It was proved many times over that the best and cheapest way to reduce vehicular emissions is to buy out old vehicles and scram ‘em.

Shaun Mann

the stickers sound like a good way to penalize the poor, a good back door for classism.

you're only allowed downtown if you are rich enough to live there or rich enough to buy a new car. the poor get the bus.



The poor in Europe do not own cars.

Rafael Seidl

Realarms -

the sticker requirement will apply to vehicles with foreign license plates as well.

Fyi CO2 -

Prius meets Euro 4 and is therefore eligible for the green sticker.

Andrey -

you are right about giving incentives to scrap old, polluting cars. France did that for a while, but it's a fairly expensive exercise. Btw, many of "the poor" in Western Europe do in fact own cars - the reason the new law is such a hot potato is precisely because there are millions of old vehicles on the roads that will not be eligible for any sticker at all. For example, over 50,000 East German two-stroke Trabant stinkers still prowl the autobahns, even though the last ones were produced in 1990.


Scrappage? Much better to

Refuel / Repower

many of them. A questionable source, but don't scram the problem as such!:

This time I'll include the svo-link:

Sorry for the links beeing inactive, don't know the code.


'The poor in Europe do not own cars.'
Propably never set foot to any Europaen country or any other part of the world for that matter. In fact I'm visiting your part of the world several times a month. Needless to say I'm NOT IMPRESSED by the poverty stricken and run down districts in most metropolitan US cities. Such comments dont do anything to improve the views other nations citizens have about the US. One way (NOT) to make friends.



US do not have friends. Only allies.

Jack Rosebro

Great article, Rafael. Thanks for that. The nexus of sustainable mobility and human needs is always challenging, and that challenge will only get more acute in the future.

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